When you own a business, you must remember that you’re only as strong as your weakest link. In this digital era, cybersecurity is many businesses’ weakest link. Although cybercriminals continue to create new cyber attack methods, there are some common methods they have used to breach businesses for some time. Knowing and blocking basic methods can help you avoid serious attack cases.
Why Do Cyber Attacks Target Small Businesses?
Installing antivirus protection on your network is vital for your cyber security, but only about 60% of small businesses have installed one. This leaves many of them vulnerable to attacks.
The basic motive for any cyberattack is often data and intelligence gathering. This often results in a data breach. Many data breaches resulting from cyberattacks can involve various elements such as documents, intellectual property, credit cards, financial records, customers, staff information, and more.
Cyberattackers may be working on their own or for other companies, especially competitors. They can sell the information they get or use it to target your customers. This is why it’s always important to identify your vulnerabilities early and seal the loopholes to avoid any form of cyber attack. Big companies with large budgets can hire cyber experts or buy a quality site manager tool to help them keep their data safe, but what can solopreneurs, startups, or small businesses do?
Preventing any form of cyberattack is better than waiting to fix the damage afterward. The following security tips for small businesses can help them prevent digital security breaches.
1. Beware of Scammers and Identify Your Vulnerabilities
Before anything else, understand the various types of scams out there and how vulnerable you are to them. Examples of cyber scams include malware such as virus attacks, rootkits, and phishing scams, which work by tricking you into giving away your data and personal information. They mainly target financial information. For example, an email appearing to be from your bank asking you to fill in some information might be a phishing attack. You’ll have given criminals access to your bank information if you enter your information.
Identifying how you received such information in the first place is the best way to examine your vulnerabilities. From there, you should take steps to avoid sharing your information or scammers having access to you or your data.
2. Train Your Employees
Once you understand your security position and vulnerabilities and how to avoid and prevent cyberattacks, you must train your staff. Even when you have dedicated security technical support, your staff are still vital sources of security breaches or targets for cyber attacks. Employee negligence is recorded as the main cause of many data breaches in small businesses due to human error, accidental device loss, or employee device theft. As a business, it’s important to train your staff on cybersecurity measures, including how to handle company devices, communication protocols, and policies about sharing company information.
3. Use Multi-Layered Security
Layered security refers to a network security approach that uses multiple security controls to protect different network and technology endpoints that can be sources of data breaches or cyber-attack. A multi-layered security approach creates a backup for each security component and endpoint of your cybersecurity strategy. This helps you counter any security flaws or gaps and arrests threats before they can instill any damage.
The six layers of security an organization should have are:
- Security Policies: Strong company data and information security policies to be implemented by security managers. This systematically helps prevent data breaches while also instilling an awareness of company security protocols.
- Premises Security: Prevents breaking into your office premises or facility or organization infiltration and monitoring employees with access to sensitive data and systems. Examples are walls, metal detectors, cameras, and security guards.
- Network Security: Configuration of network and modern routers to prevent cyberthreats. Examples are using a VPN, antivirus programs, a firewall, email filtering, web content filtering, endpoint protection, strong passwords, encryption, and multi-factor authentication (MFA or 2FA).
- Software-Based or App Malware Protection: This includes software-based solutions that protect your data and network, such as intrusion detection systems, encryption tools, anti-spam tools, firewalls, and virus detection software.
- Access Control: Unauthorized access is often the cause of many data breaches. Controlling access with encryptions, secure passwords, and physical access should prevent unauthorized data access and sensitive systems.
- Monitoring and Testing: Testing your systems regularly is important to identify and fill security loopholes. Experts like ethical hackers often do this. Testing is often accompanied by active monitoring to ensure you identify digital security breaches before they can take effect.
As a small business, having at least three of the six layers is recommended to support your organization’s data security and protection efforts.
4. Maintain Good Password Practices
Every security expert will tell you that good password practices alone will give you a great defense for your network and cybersecurity. Avoid easy, lazy passwords like birthdays, names, or a simple string of numbers such as 123456. Instead, use strong passwords with a 12-character minimum and a combination of mixed capital and small letters, figures, signs, or symbols. The more robust a password, the less likely a brute-force attack may be successful. Passwords also should be changed every three months. Additionally, it’s important to include multi-factor authentication (MFA) of passwords for employees’ apps and devices to prevent outside or unauthorized entries.
5. Limit Access
Every security step you take involves limiting access to data and company access, but you can take some important steps to limit access to particular data and sensitive equipment or information regardless of whether or not you trust your employees. It prevents employees from stealing information or those less trained or unauthorized to handle certain sensitive matters from being open to cyber attacks. Limiting entry and access can be both digital and physical, which is easier for small businesses than it is for corporations. Data Protection is part of limiting information access from being accessed or stolen by unauthorized users. For example, the company policy may dictate always to encrypt data when being stored, save keys using secure practices, use two or more keys for certain entities, and ensure data backup in case of data loss.
6. Update Company Software
A software update is a key aspect of cybersecurity that many people overlook. Vendors update the software with security patches and bug fixes to prevent breaches. If a breach manages to penetrate their software, it can get to them and damage their data, clients, and reputation.
As a business, your data security comes first. Always use multi-layer security systems, limit access to sensitive data and places, test your security systems, and monitor your security and staff. Maintain this form of safety procedures physically and digitally to protect your business and protect you from harm.