Cybersecurity threats are a significant concern for small businesses and are unfortunately becoming more frequent. Cyber attacks are predicted to double by 2025 in the U.S. due to an increase in technological capabilities.
The most frequent small business cybersecurity threats are phishing, credential theft, and stolen or compromised equipment. Corporate Account Takeover (CATO) is another common method in which hackers gain access to a business's finances or financial information and conduct unauthorized activities. Ransomware, spyware, and viruses can also threaten business systems.
The good news is that there are plenty of things you can do to help protect your business from cyber attacks. Here are 7 ways to strengthen your business’s cybersecurity efforts:
1. Invest in employee training. Employees inadvertently cause many data breaches, so proper cybersecurity training is essential. Your staff should be trained on recognizing phishing emails and avoiding suspicious links, as well as developing strong passwords and safe internet browsing practices. You should also ensure that they understand the risk of accessing company information on public Wi-Fi networks. If your employees deal with sensitive customer information, your cybersecurity training should also include best practices for handling, protecting, and properly disposing of that data.
2. Create a cybersecurity plan and policy. The Federal Communications Commission provides a tool for creating a customized cybersecurity plan for your business. Within this plan, it’s important to outline policies regarding company information being stored or accessed on your employees’ personal mobile devices. Your cybersecurity plan should also establish protocol for reporting lost devices that have any business information on them.
3. Back up critical information. To prevent the loss of critical data in the event of a breach, be sure to proactively back up any documents, electronic spreadsheets, databases, financial records, and employee files. You may consider using cloud storage for your backups so they can be accessed seamlessly. You should also ensure that you are regularly updating and auditing your backed up files.
4. Secure your networks. Ensure the security of your company's network by using a firewall and encrypting data. If your company uses a Wi-Fi network, make sure that it is secure and password-protected. When naming your Wi-Fi network, you should refrain from using your business’s name. You don’t want to make it easy for hackers to determine which network your business is using. If you have employees who work remotely, have them connect via a Virtual Private Network (VPN).
5. Enforce password requirements. Require your employees to change their passwords regularly. It’s generally recommended that passwords be changed at least once every three months. Put reminders in place or set company passwords to expire so updating them does not get overlooked.
6. Keep business software up-to-date. Updating your business software to the latest versions can help protect your computers against malware and different viruses. Configure your software to install updates automatically, or establish a process and set schedule for updating them manually. Keeping your computers and business programs up-to-date is critical to securing your infrastructure.
7. Control computer access. Controlling both physical and electronic access to computers is another critical best practice. Establish individual user accounts that allow your employees to only perform the functions necessary for their job. If possible, set up your computers to block software installations without a special password.
Setting up defenses against cyberthreats before something happens can help provide peace of mind for you and your employees. No matter how big or small your business is, if you utilize technology you are unfortunately at risk of a cyber attack. For more cybersecurity tips and business scams to be aware of, visit our Security Center.