Keeping your data safe from hackers is a major concern for small business owners. You may not have the funds to hire specialty online security experts to keep you safe. However, you are just as much at risk as the bigger corporations.
Collectively, companies lose about $1.7 billion a year due to internet crime. Losses come in the form of scams, loss of customer trust and downtime due to hacking. If you already operate on a razor-thin margin, any losses hurt your business.
The good news is that you don’t have to be a security expert or IT guru to keep your brand safe and ramp up your cybersecurity. Here are seven things to put into action:
1. Train Everyone in Best Practices
A well-trained workforce is much less likely to fall for the schemes of sophisticated phishing scams. One of the top ways hackers get into your data is by sending an email that looks as though it is from you or someone official.
Conduct training sessions about cybersecurity. Institute a policy that employees must go directly to the login page and never click on a link in an email or direct message. Give them examples of phishing scams, so they’re more aware of the possibility.
You may even want to run through some simulations. Try to get them to give up their password with a series of increasingly realistic demands. You also will see vulnerabilities in the system by running sims.
2. Beef Up Remote Access
With COVID-19 still around, many companies allow their staff to work from home. The problem with remote access points is that you lose some control over firewalls and protection. Because people are working in less formal settings, experts note there has been a rapid increase of cyberattacks, particularly when related in some way to the pandemic.
Make sure you offer free virus protection software to all your employees. Install protections such as single sign-on and use multifactor authentication.
3. Use Complex Passwords
It’s tempting to use the same password in multiple places. After all, it makes them easy to remember. The problem is that hackers know this, too.
Instead, use a password vault and auto-generate complex passwords. This makes it much harder for thieves to figure out your patterns. Ask your employees to install password lockers and use them for the different systems they employ for their work.
Force password changes every 30 to 60 days. Even if a password becomes compromised, it will soon be changed and the damage minimized.
4. Protect Your Website
If you have a WordPress website, it is a prime target for hackers. There has been a huge increase in cyberattacks over the last couple of years. One reason is because many sites have content management systems (CMS) like WordPress with all the resulting vulnerabilities.
Make sure you install firewalls and security plug-ins for your WP site. Many offer free options, if you’re on a tight budget. Others are reasonably priced and enable you to block IPs engaging in brute force attacks.
Hackers can cost you money because their attacks eat up your bandwidth and could even slow your site down. Even if they don’t get into your site, they’re stealing megabytes you could use for other purposes.
For the most part, cloud-based hosting is much safer than a platform you place on an office computer. Third-party companies serve multiple clients and must keep their platforms safe from cyberattacks.
You’ll often save money on hiring IT workers just by moving some things to the cloud. You might not be able to put everything on the cloud, but move what you can and look for a company that prides itself on its heavy security measures.
6. Update Frequently
Most successful website attacks occur through plug-ins and themes. One thing you can do is ensure you keep everything up to date. Either set your site to complete updates automatically, or go in manually once a week and ensure everything is current.
If you download any other type of software in the scope of your work, even something as commonplace as Adobe Creative Suite, make sure you install any recommended updates.
You should also update your devices’ operating systems to avoid potential security breaches.
7. Back Up Data
This probably sounds obvious, but make sure you regularly backup your data and website. If the worst happens and someone hacks you, you don’t want to lose all your hard work. If you have a recent backup of your site, you can always take the entire thing offline and reupload it.
The same goes for your customer databases. Make sure you keep a current backup. Either use automated systems to back up the information at the end of each day, or set a reminder on your calendar to back up data once a week.
How often you backup your information depends on the industry you’re in. If your company experiences rapid daily changes, then a nightly backup is worth the effort. On the other hand, if you run an e-commerce store and upload new products weekly, making a copy once a week may be more than enough.
Cybersecurity Worries Aren’t Going Away
As long as people use the internet to do business, there will always be thieves’ intent on stealing information. Hackers are savvy enough to know how to exploit the weaknesses of small businesses.
You must think ahead and stay in front of their efforts. Pay attention to the latest security threats by reading widely on the topic. Talk to experts about what your brand can do to be safer. Train employees and pay attention to hacking attempts. The more aware you are, the more likely you are to avoid an issue.