How to Protect Your Small Business from Cyber Threats

The advent often the internet and connected systems has undoubtedly brought about a lot of good in the world. However, as is the case with many things in life, there is always usually another side to the story, and when it comes to the web, cybercrime is an unfortunate consequence of this interconnectivity. Global cybercrime is estimated to cost businesses and individuals upwards of $10 trillion in the next decade…you read that right, trillion with a T, and regrettably shows no sign of slowing down. While you often hear of the most egregious examples, the sad reality is that anyone is susceptible to it, and the data shows that small to medium businesses tend to bear the brunt. This is for myriad reasons, not least of which is that they are unaware of how to protect themselves. This post will discuss some of the more fundamental actions you must take to avoid becoming another statistic in the ever-increasing number of hacks, breaches, and data theft.

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Employees Should Be Trained On Proper Safety Procedures

Prevention begins at home, and if you are serious about closing the door on criminals, you need to start taking it seriously. This means setting up a comprehensive cybersecurity policy that includes training your staff on how you expect to act and the basics of proper cybersecurity practice. This includes setting up new onboarding solutions for new team members so you can ensure that security is taken seriously from the get-go. The security of your business data heavily depends on your employees, making their training crucial in identifying and tackling potential dangers. Some factors to consider are educating them about passwords (more on that later), phishing scams, virus defense mechanisms, and correctly utilizing your company’s technical resources. Moreover, a consistent emphasis on cybersecurity education keeps them aware of emerging threats and practical strategies to evade these risks. This proactive measure can drastically lower the chances of cyber attacks that could endanger your business information.

Put In Place Security Measures Like Firewalls And Antivirus Software

While it might sound obvious to most, it’s shocking to see that many SMEs fail to invest in high-quality antivirus or firewall software. Combined with out-of-date software, this creates a perfect environment for hackers looking to exploit your weaknesses and steal your data. The best way to avoid exposing yourself to the big bad world wide web, you really need to begin implementing these programs throughout your organization. Firewalls serve as a shield between your corporate network and the online world, scrutinizing all in and outbound traffic for possible risks while denying any illicit access to your sensitive data. In contrast, antivirus software is designed to identify and eliminate malware or other harmful software that might have infected your systems. Integrating both of these solutions into your digital security strategy can significantly diminish the likelihood of cyber-attacks while ensuring that vital business information remains secure.

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Keep All Of Your Software And Operating Systems Up To Date

According to some accounts, many organizations, including those in highly sensitive industries like healthcare, still use outdated versions of certain software, with the main culprit being older versions of the Windows operating system. Obsolete technology systems can pose serious security risks, offering cybercriminals opportunities to breach your systems and access confidential information. In order to prevent this, it’s crucial to maintain the most recent and updated versions of whatever solutions you use. The most convenient way to do this is by shifting as much of your operations to the cloud as you will read in the next point. However, this might not be feasible in some cases, where you will have to ensure that your IT department stays up to date and implement the latest security patches as they become available. Consistent upgrades fortify your small business against emerging cyber threats and secure sensitive data more effectively. By adopting a policy of regular system update checks, you proactively safeguard your company’s digital assets from potential harm.

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Consider Moving As Many Of Your Systems To The Cloud As Is Feasible

Shifting more of your operations online might sound counterintuitive, but it makes more sense the more you learn about it. The cloud is essentially a catch-all word for any software or database that resides in a data center off-premises somewhere. It can also include software that requires an internet connection to use, sometimes referred to as software as a service (SaaS). Aside from the usual advantages you gain, such as enhanced scalability, customer support, and less need for a large IT department, they tend to update automatically, which, as you saw in the previous point, is a vital component of good cyber security. Moreover, if your online software uses one of the large cloud platforms such as AWS or Azure, you are guaranteed that they implement an almost impenetrable fortress able to withstand almost anything that criminals can throw at it. If you go down this route, you shouldn’t rely on it entirely, as nothing is 100% certain. Consequently, you should practice regular backups of your most critical data to ensure you are covered for most eventualities.

Maintain Consistent Backups Of Vital Information

Cyber threats, such as ransomware, phishing scams, or malware, can pose a significant risk to your data. Regular backups are essential to safeguard against these potential hazards and ensure quick recovery in the event of data loss. Numerous options exist for backing up your information, from external hard drives to cloud storage solutions or backup software programs. Selecting a dependable and secure option that aligns with both your operational needs and budget is crucial. By instituting consistent backup routines, you can lessen the aftermath of any prospective cyber attacks while fortifying your business against potential data losses.

Reduce The Number Of People Who Can Access Sensitive Data

All of your data should be on a need-to-know basis, and if everyone in your organization has access to all of the data, you are doing something severely wrong. Most software will enable you to set up limits on who can access what, which can go a long way in keeping things safe and a tab on your staff. Consider using role-based access so your team can only access the information they need to do their jobs. If they need deeper access, they should have to contact a senior team member or manager who can assess the request and take action as required. 

Cybercrime isn’t going anywhere, but there are plenty of actions you can take to reduce or even eliminate the threat it poses. It all starts with proper training, but when it comes to safety, the sky is the limit, and the ideas in this post should provide you with a good stepping-off point.

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