Cybersecurity Tips for Small Businesses

As a small business, you may think that your organization is exempt from cybersecurity threats. However, in this day and age, anyone can be vulnerable.

In fact, statistics from Accenture show that 43% of cyberattacks target small businesses – and only 14% of them are equipped with the infrastructure to defend themselves. These attacks can put your business at grave financial losses as well, and may amount to around $200,000 on average. Today’s cyberattacks are intricate, intelligent, and have grown even more complex and deceptive. They can occur for months without being detected, sucking your business of resources and sensitive data before you even have the chance to act.

Conduct a thorough audit

Before anything else, you should conduct a thorough cybersecurity audit to assess where your business is at. Vice president of product management at Untangle, Heather Paunet says that cybersecurity is a mix of policies and systems. If you do not already have a policy, you need to formulate one regarding your network, devices, and data – or get a cybersecurity professional on board to help you out. Conducting an audit should also come with training your employees. This means instructing them on ways to spot the most common cybersecurity threats. These can range from safe browsing methods to recognizing phishing emails which are extremely ubiquitous for small businesses. In essence, this is your average Internet hygiene refresher course that often gets taken for granted.

Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN)

No matter the size of your company, using a VPN is very necessary. This is one of the initial and most important tasks to check off when you are tightening your cybersecurity measures. VPNs act as an additional layer of protection against attacks as it assures that you have a private connection. These days, as remote work dynamics remain in several companies, having a VPN allows employees remote – and safe – access to your company’s infrastructure. You will be able to log into your particular server regardless of your geographic location. VPNs will send the Internet traffic from the device through an encrypted tunnel between it and the service provider so that no one else can see the traffic. Take into consideration that you shouldn’t rely on VPNs alone, but also look into application-level solutions with remote access as these have tighter measures for applications, directories, and files.

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Evaluate your data classification

Early on, when you are forming your small business and perhaps registering as a limited liability company (LLC), you will be dealing with a lot of sensitive information. One of the most common steps when getting started with an LLC is filing the official paperwork and articles of organization. This also requires the involvement of a registered agent, who is licensed to accept legal paperwork on your behalf, should it be needed. When your business is up and running, you will likely be storing this information digitally as well. This is why it’s important that you establish clear measures regarding who has access to this sensitive information. Not all employees need to have access to this sensitive data, so keep this to a minimum depending on each person’s roles. Your data classification policy should illustrate different levels of privilege for everyone who has access to these files.

Back up and update regularly

While warnings regarding backing up all your files regularly may be repeated ad nauseam, there is indispensable value in doing so. You can set automatic updates for this to stay on track, and remember to encrypt any sensitive information. Regular software updates may also include bug fixes and security patches, which constantly re-equip you with protection as cybercriminals develop new tactics to breach systems and discover vulnerabilities. Software updates can also be scheduled automatically and may cover everything from your servers, operating systems, anti-malware software, network security, firewalls, and similar programs along these lines.

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Multi-factor authentication

For business accounts, using multi-factor authentication is a quick and mandatory cybersecurity measure. This is especially important for business transactions. Supplying you with another cloak of security, multi-factor authentication frequently means that numerical codes are sent to other devices like smartphones, for you to plug in alongside your username and password. This creates additional hurdles for hackers who may only have passwords. Cloud versions of these leave no digital footprint whatsoever, and some systems also have features that include reviewing identities, together with the help of access management rules.

While the threat of data breaches or cybercriminals is a looming presence, prioritizing cybersecurity as you would with any business goal is necessary in staying one step ahead. Cybersecurity, albeit indirectly, is fundamental to the success of your small business.

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