Cyber security is a significant concern for all enterprises, but it can be particularly challenging for small businesses. Sophisticated security systems require dedicated information technology (IT) teams and additional resources. As such, small businesses tend to view cyber security as something to be concerned about down the road when they are more established or they have the means to invest in the latest software. Consequently, they become more vulnerable to threats like malware and phishing attacks.
This article serves as a small business cyber security guide. It aims to educate small businesses on how they can achieve cyber security without having to break the bank or go through so many hoops. Below are six cyber security tips.
- Look For An IT Support
If you have a startup, it’s likely that you don’t have an IT support team in place. You can always outsource an IT support who can provide you with regular updates and security patches for all your devices. This way, you won’t have to worry about updating your software or installing patches; instead, you can concentrate on the business and marketing aspects.
You may consider companies that offer managed services when looking for IT support. Managed services providers like Managed IT in Chicago can come to your office to ensure everything is running smoothly and securely. They can also help you set up proper backup systems and double-check that all your software is updated and secured from any online threats.
- Use Strong Passwords For All Accounts
It’s vital for all users who have access to your company’s network or computers to have strong passwords. You should also set up two-factor authentication (2FA) for all users with access to sensitive data, such as customer information and credit card details. This means a user needs something else besides their username and password before they can log into a service or website.
For instance, you can require people who want access to your online banking site to enter their username and a code sent via text message before they can log in. The 2FA makes it harder for criminals who steal login credentials from one site to access other accounts where the same credentials are used.
- Install Anti-Virus Software
Anti-virus software is essential for any computer. It prevents viruses from infecting your system and stealing data. Most anti-virus software includes real-time scanning, which means it checks for viruses as soon as you open a file or website. This feature can prevent viruses from getting past your firewall and infecting your entire network.
When choosing an anti-virus software, you should consider how user friendly it is and how often it updates itself. You may also go for a relatively inexpensive software that doesn’t tax your computer’s performance. Lastly, look up the company behind the product and check for any red flags or issues. Ideally, you should go for a company with a good reputation for providing quality support when you need it most.
- Back Up Data Regularly
It is essential to back up all of your necessary data regularly so that if there is ever an emergency or disaster, you can restore all of your information quickly and easily. Backups are helpful if you change computers or upgrade your operating system.
There are many ways to back up data, one of which is a cloud-based backup service. Some are hesitant to take advantage of this service. They view the risks to security to be too high. If you are of the same mind, you can use an external hard drive or external storage device to store copies of your data locally on another computer in case something happens to your primary one. This way, even if someone can access your network remotely and delete data, you still have copies of everything elsewhere.
- Ensure Employees Know How To Spot Threats
Another thing you must do to protect your business from cyber attacks is make everyone working for you undergo a training on how to spot threats. It’s not enough to tell employees what kinds of threats exist; they need to recognize them when they see them so that they can report any suspicious activity immediately.
Especially, project managers should not neglect security in large and small business projects, which generate many documents like business plans. Project managers should take proper measures to protect their company and the data, especially their clients’ information. Doing so reduces the risk of an attack taking place as they carry out projects.
Employees should be vigilant as well. When they receive a suspicious link, they must know how to respond immediately to protect the project data by contacting the IT team. This way, the IT team can investigate whether or not the email is legitimate or part of a phishing scam designed to steal user credentials or personal information.
- Encrypt Sensitive Data
Data encryption is crucial in preventing unauthorized parties from accessing sensitive information. Encrypting data is an additional layer of protection from hackers. They need to decrypt the data first, and while they’re decrypting, you may receive a warning about the unauthorized access and take the necessary steps to safeguard your information.
The best way for small businesses to encrypt their data is by using key public infrastructure (PKI) certificates and digital signatures for authentication purposes. Alternatively, you can consider using a secure cloud storage service with built-in security features like 2FA and password protection.
As you grow your startup company, you must ensure that it’s not vulnerable to cyber attacks. Being a subject of a cyber attack early on the game can be damaging to your brand. You need not be overwhelmed when thinking of cyber security though. You may consider this article as your checklist. If you do all of the six steps discussed here, then you can be confident that your small business is protected from all kinds of cyber threats.