Cybersecurity is essential for businesses of all sizes. However, small companies are particularly susceptible to digital threats. In fact, studies have shown that, in 2018, 58 percent of organizations hit by cyberattacks were small businesses. Even worse? Roughly 60 percent of small businesses are forced to close their doors indefinitely following an attack. These are risks you simply can’t ignore.
If you’ve buried your head in the sand or believed that your business was too small to attract a threat, you’ll need to take a more proactive approach when it comes to cybersecurity. Why? Your company, employees, and customers depend on it. To help you beef up your data security protocol, we’re breaking down several essential steps to take, as well as how a dedicated IT team can help.
Current Threats to Your Cybersecurity
Unfortunately, your biggest security threats may come from within. The most common way hackers gain access to small businesses is through employees. However, this doesn’t usually mean that the employee has malicious intent and works alongside criminals or steals data on their own. Most often, workers are simply unaware of security best practices and may make mistakes that open the door for data theft and unwarranted access to your system.
Hackers typically target employees and executives through phishing scams, which attempt to get users to click on infected links or download virus-laden files. Businesses that fail to implement a secure IT infrastructure are most at risk for these types of attacks. Unfortunately, many companies employ a “Frankenstein” approach that involves adding new software and apps to their legacy systems. The danger in this is that employees might not have the proper knowledge or tools to maintain best practices in these environments.
The good news? You can prevent cybersecurity threats by implementing comprehensive protocols.
Best Cybersecurity Practices for Businesses
While developing a cybersecurity protocol might be overwhelming, many of the steps you can take to protect your business are common sense once you understand how threats work. For example, phishing emails are often easy to detect once you know the key signs to look for. The following are some of the most important steps to take when it comes to your business’s data security:
Use a Secure Firewall
Utilizing a secure business firewall router is the first line of defense against hacking, viruses, and scams. Companies of all sizes should install a firewall to act as a barrier between their sensitive data and cybercriminals. Additionally, if your business has employees that work from home, you should encourage them to install one on their home networks.
Install Anti-Malware Software
Just one click on an infected link can spiral into a security disaster if you don’t take the right precautions. Therefore, it’s essential to install reliable anti-malware and anti-virus software on all of your company’s computers and other devices. That way, if an employee accidentally clicks on a bad link or opens a phishing email, you can avoid falling victim to an attack.
Educate All Employees
A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. With this in mind, all of your employees must follow best practices in order to keep your network secure. Often, mistakes occur because workers are not fully aware of the dangers of certain actions. Mandating cybersecurity education and providing frequent training is an effective way to ensure your employees understand all of the risks in the digital world – and how to avoid them.
Develop a Cybersecurity Policy
By developing a comprehensive cybersecurity protocol, your employees will know exactly how to protect themselves against cyberattacks. Similarly, you should also implement a clear plan of action for a variety of scenarios. For example, if your company was hit by a ransomware attack, everyone at your company should know what steps they need to take to mitigate damage. This might also involve delegating key responsibilities ahead of time so that you can tackle issues quickly. Keeping a policy in place will help you proactively handle any situation more efficiently and minimize damage.
Regularly Back Up All Business Data
Not only are backups essential for protecting your business from data loss due to natural disasters and system failures, but they can also help you mitigate the damage from cyberattacks. For example, if your company falls victim to a ransomware attack, you can feel confident knowing that you have a copy of your data – and avoid paying the hefty ransom to regain access to your network.
It’s best to employ a comprehensive approach when it comes to data backups. Many businesses use both an external hard drive (which can be kept offsite) as well as cloud-based services.
Never Use Public Networks with Business Devices
Public networks are convenient – they let you log in and do business from anywhere. However, many public networks are unsecured and may serve as an easy way for hackers to infiltrate your system. And once these cybercriminals compromise an employee’s accounts, they can feasibly gain access to the rest of your data. Therefore, it’s critical to educate your employees on the dangers of public networks and ensure that they know not to use them with business devices or accounts.
Develop a Device Protocol
As remote work becomes more common, many employees are beginning to use their own devices for various business-related tasks. Employees of every level may log in to their work account from their home computers, send emails via their smartphone, and use their iPad to access important documents while on the road. These on-the-go aspects of technology have made it far easier to maintain productivity, but they’ve also opened the door for more cybersecurity risks. Therefore, developing and maintaining a robust security protocol with regard to personal and business devices is essential.
Looking for the Best IT Service Company?
If you need a team of experienced IT service providers, NerdsToGo can help. Our Nerds can assess your current security measures and develop the right services to fit your needs today and into the future. Contact us today to see how we can improve your business cybersecurity protocol, or to schedule a free cyber risk assessment!