Throughout the pandemic, we’ve heard the term new normal used so many times and about so many different things. While we all accepted that this new normal was what was necessary for the time being to help frontline workers from being overwhelmed and to protect those at risk, most of us did yearn for the old normal we had left behind in early 2020. Thankfully, it seems as though the pandemic is now coming to an end and local businesses are finally able to return to whatever normal looks like in this post-pandemic world. While the increase in customers is excellent news for small business owners who have struggled so much in the past year, there will be challenges with this return to full operations. Many local restaurants are struggling to rehire waitstaff or find replacement chefs to keep up with increased demand from growth in customers. One challenge that will impact all small businesses regardless of industry is tackling the cybersecurity risks coming at them in the midst of adapting back to the craziness of full operations.
In the thick of the pandemic, when COVID cases were at their highest, cybercriminals were heavily targeting hospitals and other emergency or medical related fields. These malicious actors knew that the victims they were targeting were spread far too thin to deal with cybersecurity in as strong a way as they would normally be equipped to handle. This is a prediction many cyber professionals have for small businesses as they return to full operations — finally able to make decent money and get repeat customers coming back in, small businesses which have been struggling for so long are either too busy to spend time on cyber concerns or do not have the income that they once had and have to focus funds elsewhere. While your small business is working on getting back to normal, follow these steps to help protect it on the cyber front.
- Use strong passwords — The simplest, completely free, and most basic cybersecurity step a business or individual can make is to use strong, unique passwords. This essential, yet easy step can be the difference between a cybercriminal having a successful attack or their attempts being thwarted. This is your first and strongest defense against attackers. There are also free encrypted password databases which can make keeping track of unique passwords easier!
- Train employees — Teach employees to use strong cybersecurity best practices in order to protect your business even further. Many of the ways attackers get into a business’ systems is through employee error. Show employees how to safely use technology that they need to have access to and teach them how to implement safety features as well, like logging out of accounts or locking devices when not in use.
- Backup systems and devices regularly — In 2021, our devices are smarter than ever before and they let us know when they need updating. These updates help to patch system errors or weaknesses, so staying up-to-date on them is important. Additionally, back up data often so that the information collected is safe and not lost in the event of some error.
- Use a firewall and encryption — Firewalls and encryption software can be affordable. Once your small business is at the point that some money can be put toward cybersecurity, get these software in order to protect your business. This acts as a barrier between your internal operations and anyone trying to get inside.
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