The topic of cybersecurity can be a little scary for small business owners — ransomware, data breaches, hackers stealing PII, oh my! These local companies built on dreams have had plenty of hurdles to overcome in order to be in operation, and the various cybersecurity threats out there don’t make it any easier for them to thrive and succeed in their industries. While it can be intimidating to discuss the topic of small business cybersecurity, it is important for these proprietors to prioritize cyber safety in order to protect their business from attack. This can be a hard topic to approach, so below we’ll take a look at some scary good tips to try and help make this process easier for you to protect your small business.
Educate Employees on Cybersecurity
Employees are simultaneously the best defense and greatest threat to a business’ cybersecurity approach. Employees who lack cybersecurity awareness and who do not discipline themselves when it comes to utilizing cybersecurity best practices open up the company to a wide variety of cyber risks. On the other hand, an employee who has had proper cybersecurity training can be the best defense between your business and those external threats. Be sure to teach employees about your expectations when it comes to cybersecurity and be sure to set an example from the top down. As a manager, you can set the standard for your employees by not only teaching them about cybersecurity, but also by being cybersafe yourself. Phishing is the greatest threat to the employee-protection facet of cybersecurity — these are malicious, false messages claiming to be legitimate and with the objective of stealing data or gaining access to your business’ network. This is a great topic to cover in your next cybersecurity employee training.
Use Strong Passwords
Be sure to use unique passwords and password protect everything that you can. While it might seem easier to have a computer unlocked so everyone can access it, a non-password protected laptop is a major threat to your cybersecurity. Not only does this allow everyone who gets near the device to log into it, something like a laptop or tablet is also easy to steal — this is one of the physical risks of cybersecurity. Protect these and all other devices and accounts by having strong, unique passwords. Do not write down your passwords, as this defeats the purpose. To keep track of your numerous passwords, you can invest in a password manager — a secure online database in which you can keep all of your passwords with one complex password (this one, you will need to be sure to memorize). Though it can seem like such a small thing, password use is incredibly important to the success of your small business staying cybersecure.
Backup Your Data
In the unfortunate (and hopefully unlikely) event that your business does encounter a cyberattack, it can feel devastating to have your vital company and customer data compromised. Though you hopefully will avoid the need to access it, backing up your data can help to avoid any downtime that would otherwise be experienced in the event of an attack.
Utilize Strong Firewalls
One of the best ways to semi-automate your cybersecurity approaches is by using a strong firewall. This is one of the best things you can do to protect your business because a firewall acts as a filter for your network. Firewalls filter in the good data and work to filter out the bad, malicious data for you. There is a wide variety of firewalls available, so any business can find one that fits their needs and budget.
Conduct Business Only with Other Cyber Safe Businesses
Just as employees can make or break your business’ cybersecurity, who you do business with can affect your business as well. While this doesn’t necessarily mean ensuring each patron is aware of phishing attacks, it does mean that you should be sure that any B2B operations you conduct are with other businesses that utilize strong cyber defenses. These companies can gain access to your networks in more intimate ways than other, completely unrelated businesses — if they are unsafe when it comes to cyber, then they are putting you at risk as well.