New technologies, new markets, and new customer needs have changed the small business cyber security landscape. The majority of small businesses may not want to believe or even realize that they could be the next victim of a cyber attack. But not being properly prepared for an attack could mean the end of your small business or make it very tough to recover. According to the U.S’ National Cyber Security Alliance, Sixty percent of small companies go out of business six months after an cyber attack.
Let’s take a look at some best practices that you can put to use to protect yourself and your business.
One of the most common mistakes that business can make is not reconfiguring a new machine for security. It’s easy for hackers to gain access with factory settings since they can be easily found or determined. The newest and latest operating systems should be set to automatically update and install to take advantage of new security patches. Software for anti-virus, spam, and spyware should also be installed to protect your system and sensitive data. Having a policy in place about downloading and installing from only trusted sources can help create a culture of security and protection in the workplace.
New technology like smart phones, laptops, and tablets make it easy for you to always be connected to work, but it’s important to use them safely to keep your data safe. Using strong passwords or touch ID features helps secure your information to your eyes only. Be smart about what you’re sharing over public WiFi, and avoid logging in to sensitive things like email or banking (using a VPN or mobile hotspot is advised). Making sure your mobile devices and apps are up-to-date will also help with security (only keep relevant apps and “delete when done”).
Beyond encryption of data (which is highly recommended), proper password etiquette is big for cyber security protection. “Password1” is popular to use as a simple password because it meets most automated security measurements, and you can guarantee that isn’t stopping any potential hackers. All passwords being used in a system should be reviewed and changed to something more secure. This should be done periodically every few months, especially with employee turnover or outsourcing.
It’s impossible to protect what you don’t know. Identify your company’s sensitive data, and make sure the appropriate protections are in place for each location (server, laptop, computer, etc.). Next, limit who has access to your sensitive info and make sure it is on a need-to-know basis only (Never give out blanket admin access to everything). Keep records about data usage so a trail exists if things get compromised. Consider the cloud for your data storage for the peace of mind of data back-ups, and encrypt any locally stored data as mentioned. Make sure any physical statements that could have personal information or credit card data is properly shredded and disposed off so they can’t be recovered from trash cans or recycling bins.
This checklist from the National Cyber Security Alliance is a good summary of what you can be doing safer and what particular things you should be worried about like WiFi, network devices, USBs, etc.
Technology has fundamentally changed the way that businesses operate and technological advances don’t look to be slowing down anytime soon. Cyber criminals will continue to target small businesses. It is the responsibility of every business to stay current or risk facing cyber attacks without the latest protection. Anything from software, the latest operating systems, or just employee protocols can help secure your business and data. Remember that it takes a lifetime to build a reputation, but just a moment to ruin it when it comes to your business and cyber security. Reach out to learn more abut how TechStak can help you find and hire the right cyber security partner to protect your business.
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About the Author, Sean Walsh
Sean is a Digital Marketing and Brand Communication Intern at TechStak. He has over four years of experience running and growing corporate social media platforms. Sean is a lifelong lover of the latest technology and gadgets. He attends University of Michigan-Dearborn and will soon graduate with a Bachelor of Business Administration focused in Marketing.