For small business owners, cyber security may not be seen as a priority in their general strategic plans. Many small businesses view cyber attacks such as phishing and malware as something that only affects larger businesses with hundreds of networked computers. The truth is that all businesses, regardless of their size are susceptible to cyber attacks. As of 2021, it is a sobering fact that 61% of all small businesses experienced cyber attacks in one form or other. As a result, cyber security should be an ongoing priority for all business owners. If you are a small business owner and want to ensure that your organization is protected from the threat of hackers and scammers, there are several key actions you must take. In this article, some of the main top tips to protect your business from cyber attacks and boost your cyber security are discussed.
- Educate Your Workforce
A workforce that is well educated on cybercrime and cyber attacks is a vigilant one that can spot malicious emails and untrustworthy links. By educating the workforce on how to prevent phishing attacks along with training on malware attacks, computer viruses, denials of service, and how to spot fraudulent emails, you are essentially creating a layer of cyber security that pervades your whole workforce. Cyber security training can be conducted in-house by your IT team and be available as online modules for mandatory training. It makes sense to run these training programmes on an annual basis and to update them with new knowledge and resources when they become available. This will ensure that existing employees keep up to date with cyber security issues and protocols. In addition, cyber security training should be mandatory as part of an induction package of learning for new employees so that these new starters do not inadvertently pose a cyber security risk to the organization due to a lack of knowledge on the subject.
- Install Firewalls and Antivirus Software
Two highly important and effective tools in the fight against cybercrime are firewalls and sophisticated antivirus software. These cyber security products should be seen as crucial parts of any business’s IT infrastructure and should be installed on all devices that are used to access company data and systems (including company smartphones). Firewalls work by acting like an invisible barrier that monitors all internet traffic before it reaches your company’s hardware devices. Firewalls can be programmed by IT professionals to effectively filter out traffic that may be malicious by using a system of rules in the setup. As a result, they can be seen as offering a customized level of protection for your IT assets. Antivirus software works by running regular scans of the IT device that they are installed on to look for a range of cyber threats like malware bots and viruses. This software can work in the background of your devices, autonomously searching for threats. As and when such threats are found the antivirus software, can quarantine these malicious programs, thus ensuring that your devices do not become susceptible to their attacks.
- Ensure Strong Passwords are Used
In an age that is characterized by employees needing to remember a vast amount of passwords at both the office and in their homes, it can be easy for password fatigue to set in and simple, weak passwords to be used to log into various programmes and applications. This presents easy access to hackers who can either guess simple passwords or use hacking software that can run common passwords such as “123456” or “password123” through systems to see if they allow entry. This method is known as password spraying. By ensuring that all employees use strong passwords that are difficult to guess and potentially by using apps to securely store these passwords an organization can protect itself far more effectively against a range of password attacks.
- Back Up Data Regularly
The importance of regularly backing up company data on secure external hard drives cannot be underestimated. If a cybercriminal unleashes a malware attack, virus, or denial of service programme on your company’s IT infrastructure, documents and data may likely be corrupted or become unable to be accessed. Company data can be sensitive and integral to the running of any organization. By ensuring that regular backups of all company data take place, an organization can ensure that business continuity remains if the original data is damaged or corrupted. Organizations should back up their data daily and servers can automatically do this on a nightly basis when employees are not using the systems.
A small business can ensure that it remains cyber secure by educating the workforce on cyber security issues, installing firewalls and antivirus software, ensuring strong passwords are used and regularly backing up company data.