Cyber threats are a daily concern for companies of all sizes. The average cost of a data breach for large online retailers is an alarming $4 million. Bigger companies are generally able to handle such issues. However, some small businesses never manage to recover their losses and reputation.
Digital security failures are usually due to targeted hacker attacks. Some of them also occur because of internal issues such as human error, bitter employees, and poor security training. This leads to vulnerabilities in your network that skilled hackers can easily exploit.
Preventing cyber-attacks and ensuring your company data stays safe is extremely important. Here are five tips your small business should consider.
Most businesses will have firewalls, encryption, anti-virus programs, and other standard security measures in place on their network. But to be most effective, these types of software need to be updated and maintained regularly. Hackers are always finding weaknesses, and even the strongest password won’t protect your data if the system itself isn’t up to date.
You should install security updates as soon as the software company makes them available. New forms of computer viruses and malware are always appearing. Regular upgrades to your security software are the best way to resist them.
The routers on you network should use the latest encryption standards. You should grant access to wireless devices only via strong passwords. Deploy FDE (full-disk encryption) programs on every server and workstation that will protect the operating system and applications as well as the hard drive.
Encryption uses complex algorithms to transform your data into meaningless characters that can only be decrypted with the proper digital keys. Secure through encryption all of your most sensitive data, such as credit card numbers, passwords, and personal information.
However, you shouldn’t necessarily encrypt all information. Encrypted files that become corrupted may be impossible to decrypt. Follow the recommended practices within your industry, which should include frequent data backups.
Employees could unknowingly open the door to hackers if you don’t educate them on security procedures. Your company should have a written policy on security expectations and protocols. Copies should be distributed to all employees and online versions made available for reference.
You should create regular training sessions to educate your employees about the latest cyber security threats. For example, they should know how to recognize suspicious email and phishing attacks
Also, your employees should be aware of the danger of using public Wi-Fi to access business data. Since these networks are not encrypted it’s risky to use them to connect to your company’s server.
Treat your employees with dignity, as you’ll be losing money every time you have to replace one. Unhappy or departing employees also provide a greater risk of data breaches. They may introduce malware from within the network or share passwords carelessly. Every employee’s network access should be revoked immediately after departure.
You should also create strict policies for passwords. For starters, never use the same password for multiple sites. Hackers will only have to guess one password to gain access to everything.
Always change default passwords, and enforce rules for new passwords requiring a mix of lower and uppercase characters, numerals, and special characters. Make sure you and your employees change all passwords every few months. If you or your employees find you have too many passwords to keep up with, you can find password manager utilities to keep all your passwords on file, but protected by a unique, secure key.
Cloud computing affords you another level of security. Storing all you data on in-house servers poses a risk that your information could be lost through fire, flood, vandalism, or unfortunate accidents. In the cloud, all communications are encrypted and you don’t have to worry about unauthorized access to your physical servers. In addition, the level of security offered by a reputable cloud provider typically exceeds what you’re using on-premises.
The benefits of cloud data storage include convenience, affordability, ease of data recovery, and improved security. Find a cloud provider than can limit access to approved employees only, and won’t share documents that may contain sensitive information. Managing your cloud security should not fall to just one individual, but represent a team-oriented service.
In conclusion, your company’s future may be only as good as your cyber security. It’s important to regularly update your security software. You should also encrypt all confidential data and enforce strict password policies. Make sure that your digital security policy involves employee training and cloud storage to minimize risks of your business data being compromised.