06 November 2023
Cyber Security Measures That Must Be Taken by Small Businesses To Protect The Company
Cybersecurity has held significance for businesses ever since the beginning of the internet. However, in the present day, a larger number of employees are engaged in hybrid or entirely remote positions, requiring remote access to company resources. The quantity of data stored in cloud-based systems has surged over the past decade, resulting in a substantial increase in the potential for unauthorized breaches, hacks, or data exposure.
As we step into 2024, ensuring the safety and security of your business presents an entirely new challenge compared to just a few years ago. Despite the constant looming danger of data breaches, ransomware attacks, and subtle online scams, recent data indicates that as many as 90% of businesses remain unprepared for cyberattacks.
Wondering how to ensure your safety? Keep reading to discover the essential cybersecurity measures that every small business should implement to shield itself from the digital threats that abound in the virtual realm.
The term "Malware" encompasses any software created with malicious intent, with "viruses" being a specific subtype of malware that self-replicates within a computer until it permeates the entire system. Another category of malware, known as "spyware," is designed to operate covertly while gathering data about the targeted business. It's evident that comprehensive protection is essential against these virtual threats.
To establish a robust cybersecurity system, a dependable antivirus program is a fundamental necessity. Furthermore, anti-malware software is indispensable. These components serve as the ultimate defense line against unwanted attacks that may breach your security network.
They function by identifying and eliminating viruses, malware, adware, and spyware. Additionally, they scrutinize and filter out potentially harmful downloads and emails. To remain safeguarded against the latest scams and rectify any vulnerabilities, it is imperative to keep this software up to date.
2.SECURE YOUR NETWORK WITH A FIREWALL
A firewall and an antivirus program serve different purposes. A firewall protects both hardware and software, safeguarding physical servers and blocking or deterring viruses from entering your network. On the other hand, antivirus targets software affected by viruses that have already infiltrated the system. Combining both is effective for comprehensive security.
A firewall safeguards a small business's network traffic, both inbound and outbound, preventing attacks and restricting the transmission of sensitive data and emails. Regular updates are essential for a firewall's effectiveness. Popular options, such as Bitdefender, Avast, and Norton, often offer firewall features along with other security tools like VPNs, password managers, and cloud data backups.
3.REGULAR DATA BACKUP
To protect your business, it's crucial to regularly back up all data either to an external hard drive or the cloud. Automated backups should be scheduled to ensure data safety, even in the event of system compromise. This practice is among the most vital security measures.
Many software programs handling sensitive data include this feature, but conducting an audit of your business communications is advisable to eliminate potential single points of failure that could result in the loss of valuable historical data.
4.PROTECT YOUR WI-FI NETWORK
If you're still using the outdated WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy) network, it's time to make the switch to WPA2 (Wi-Fi Protected Access version 2), which offers significantly better security.
WPA2 is becoming a standard for online security, and if you're not already using it, it's essential to upgrade. Large businesses should make a concerted effort to transition to this more secure network.
Consider changing the name of your wireless access point or router (SSID) and using a complex Pre-shared Key (PSK) passphrase for added security to protect your Wi-Fi network from hacker breaches.
5.USE VPN (VIRTUAL PRIVATE NETWORK)
A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is a valuable tool for any business with an internet connection. It adds an extra layer of security to conceal online activities from third parties. Notably, 30% of VPN users employ it for work-related internet access.
VPNs route your data and IP address through an encrypted server before reaching the internet, so websites see the VPN server's IP address instead of yours. They're most valuable when connecting to unsecured public internet, where hackers can easily intercept data. With a VPN, your connection becomes secure, preventing data theft.
The trade-off is a slight reduction in internet speed. The best VPNs are secure, fast, and affordable, and the speed decrease is a small trade-off for enhanced privacy.
While a VPN doesn't grant complete online anonymity, it significantly improves safety by disconnecting your IP address from your online activity, making it much harder to trace.
6.USE PASSWORD MANAGERS FOR COMPLEX PASSWORDS
Practically every computer and web application demand a key for access, whether it's in the form of security answers or passwords. It's crucial to generate complex keys to thwart hackers from easily cracking them.
Managing multiple unique and complex passwords for various work software can be challenging. The solution to this problem is a reliable password management tool.
Password managers keep track of your online activities, automatically generating the appropriate username, password, and even security question answers for logging into any website or service. Users only need to remember a single PIN or master password to access their vault of login information. Many of these tools offer additional features, such as password generators to steer users away from weak or reused passwords.
7.MAKE SURE THE EMPLOYEES ARE AWARE OF SECURITY MEASURES
A well-documented cybersecurity policy is important but not enough on its own. To make these policies effective, ensure that they are communicated to and understood by your employees. This involves not only creating the policy but also educating your staff on how to implement it. When introducing new software like a business VPN, it's vital that your employees know how to use it correctly to safeguard your company's data.
Consider bringing in a third-party consultant to assess your processes for security vulnerabilities, whether online or in your physical office. Having a clear process for updating your entire company when policy changes occur is essential, as cybersecurity policies need to be regularly amended to address evolving threats.
Furthermore, providing your staff with resources and information to stay safe online outside of work, such as consumer cybersecurity software recommendations and guidance on protecting personal information, is a wise practice to enhance overall security.