Small Business Cyber Security Tips: Understanding the Basics
by Nouman Ali
According to the HISCOX Cybersecurity Report, 2018, small businesses are becoming more and more vulnerable to cyber-security related threat. In fact, according to the report, 47% of small businesses reported a cybersecurity-related attack in the past 12 months. Regardless of these statistics, small businesses pay little or no attention to protect their businesses from online security threats. The reason being that small businesses are already short on resources, and they are doing their best to make ends meet and breakeven.
At a time like this, cyber-security is not a priority for them, and small businesses end up ignoring it unless they are directly affected by it. Unfortunately, once small businesses are hit by such an attack, it ends up destroying the company from its core and crumbles it into nothing. Therefore, no matter what the size of your business, it is important to pay attention to external threats and plan accordingly.
Our article today lists some useful tips that can help small businesses improve their security and prevent any cybersecurity-related attacks in the future. Let’s start with the basics!
Train Your Employees
The first and most obvious thing that you need to do is train your employees! Naturally, they are the ones who are at the front-end, and they will be the ones who will be managing any external threat. Most business owners think that an attempt at hacking would be done through several steps and would require a great deal of time.
However, the reality is; otherwise, cyber-attacks can be of different sizes and many types. Even a small phishing attempt through a link in the email can lead to compromised security. Therefore, organizations should take every step possible to thwart even the smallest threat, and training employees is the most important one.
SME’s can train their employees to spot such emails that can cause a threat to their business. Additionally, taking precautionary measures along with safe browsing practices can ensure the security of the business is kept intact. Phishing attacks are one of the leading causes of cybersecurity breaches in small businesses. The hacker tricks the user through bait in the form of a phishing email.
The hacker usually creates a fake email address to carry out this task and makes the subject a matter of urgency so that the user clicks on the email without thinking. If your employees are aware of such practices, they would be more careful when they are clicking on any random emails. Whether you have a carpet cleaning business or a digital marketing agency, you should be fully equipped with anti-virus and anti-malware software to prevent any external attacks.
Use Multi-Factor Authentication
Setting up multi-factor authentication is a quick way to make your business safer online. A lot of credit card companies and banks use this facility to create a safer environment for their businesses. The process provides an extra layer of security by asking you to authenticate through your username and password on two platforms instead of one.
For example, if you type your username and password on your laptop, the system will send an authentication message to your mobile phone as well, which will usually include a code. You will be required to enter this code to enter the system. This extra layer of security does not require much time and is a great way to prevent a cyber-attack on your system. A lot of software and online platforms like Google provide this facility for free; all you have to do is spend a few minutes to activate it!
Regular Software Updates
Outdated software is one of the major reasons why a system might be hacked. The reason different versions are released is to fix any bugs and make the software better in terms of security, design, functionality, etc. If your employees are not regularly updating their software, this can be a big problem for your firm. A good practice is to activate automatic updates in the system so that they can take place whenever the software has a new version that needs to be installed. This way, your employees can be tension-free as well since the updates can be taken care of.
Improve Password Strength
Probably the oldest trick in the book to improve cybersecurity is through improving password strength. A lot of people are more comfortable with using easy passwords. This makes their accounts extremely vulnerable to cyber-security attacks. Moreover, a lot of us are also guilty of using the same password on multiple platforms making our accounts even more vulnerable and easier to hack.
Experts suggest that passwords that are a combination of numbers, symbols, upper case, and lower case letters are the best way to fight against brute-force attacks. Moreover, it is also suggested to have a password containing 10 characters or more. Hackers are usually putting in a combination of passwords through software to hack into your system. If your password combination is easy, the hacker will not face any difficulty to hack into your system.
Moreover, as the owner of a small business, train your employees and staff to change their passwords periodically, and use complex password combinations every time they change their passwords. Also, if you sense any suspicious activity being carried out on any of your accounts, then consider changing your passwords to regain control. The best thing is that it barely takes a few minutes to change your password!
With so much happening around them, it can be difficult for small businesses to keep everything running and implement top-notch security measures with limited resources. What small-business owners, especially online businesses fail to understand is that implementing security measures is not as difficult as it sounds.
Introducing a basic cyber-security program will not take more than a few hours, and that includes training your employees as well. So, what are you waiting for? With a few, simple measures you can amp up the security of your small business and make it safe from external threats.
About the Author
Nouman provides ghostwriting and copywriting services. His educational background in the technical field and business studies helps him in tackling topics ranging from career and business productivity to web development and digital marketing. He occasionally writes articles for Shireen inc.