Many businesses had to rapidly implement technology solutions due to the pandemic. In this article, we’ll cover some basic tips for improving small business cybersecurity.
Cybersecurity Threats Are on the Rise
According to an article from Small Business Trends, reports of cyberattacks have increased more than 30% compared to this time last year. And businesses are at greater risk due to the growth in working from home, customer-facing services, and online cloud use.
Here are some cybersecurity tips to help protect your business this year.
Establish or Refine Security Protocols
Establishing – and refining – your security protocols is an important step in creating and maintaining a consistent approach to cyber threats. Take some time to discuss your plans with an IT professional and then write them down, so you can share them with your business partners, employees, and any independent contractors who might be using your networks in the future.
Forbes has a great list of things to think about when you’re working out the details.
Assess and Address Your Weaknesses
As you are creating or updating your cybersecurity program for your small or medium-sized business, start by assessing potential areas of weakness. Target the areas that will be best served by digital upgrades or new security technology or procedures.
Train Employees on How to Mitigate Risks
Your employees are both an important line of defense and one of the largest potential risk areas when it comes to protecting your business against cyberattacks. Ensuring your employees are properly trained is even more important in this new era of working from home.
The most vulnerable areas in this regard include employee email accounts and home wi-fi networks.
Educate your associates on recognizing suspicious email activity and increasing the security measures – like implementing a more secure Wi-Fi password – at home.
Improve Password Behaviors
Speaking of passwords, it’s also wise to educate yourself and your employees about using stronger passwords. It’s common for people to use their own names or parts of their personal addresses or phone numbers to create easy-to-remember passwords.
To reduce the risk of employees using weak passwords, create password parameters and educate your employees about how to come up with stronger ones. Here are a few best practices:
- Experts say the most secure passwords are at least 12 characters
- Include a mix of letters, numbers, symbols, capitals, and lowercases
- Don’t use your name, other personal information, or “password”
- Change your passwords every three months
- Don’t keep your passwords on a sticky note or piece of paper
Create and Assess Access Privileges
Allowing employees access to information and digital systems within your business is not an all-or-nothing affair. Though working from home often requires you to afford your employees new or expanded privileges within your security network, it’s important to assess which employees need access to certain systems or files.
Run Regular Backups
We all know the frustration of losing an important document before we’ve had a chance to save it. Your business can’t afford to lose data like that, so it’s important to run regular backups on all computers and devices – including documents, spreadsheets, cloud accounts, financial information, human resource files, and more.
If you can, set up automatic backups or get in the habit of manually backing up your files weekly or monthly.
Stay on Top of Tech Updates
In the same way that you need to make sure your backups are the most up-to-date, you must also stay on top of your technology updates.
To keep your small business safe, make sure your digital devices patched and updated. Software makers routinely send out updates that address specific or evolving cybersecurity threats.
As with your backups, it’s both recommended and easy to enroll in automatic updating, so you don’t have to remember to check for updates every day or week.
Bonus: Don’t Forget About That Company Card
The internet makes things so easy – your credit card provider can alert you to suspicious activity or potential fraud attempts, you can cancel or freeze a card with the click of a button. But there are also many quick solutions that can leave you and your business credit card account vulnerable, especially since your team is more geographically scattered than ever.
Employees and former employees may have your company card’s information stored on a number of websites like Amazon, even when not actively using the card. In fact, I noticed a few months ago that my Amazon Prime account still had credit card information from a company card I used 3 jobs ago now. Be sure to standardize the process by which you and your employees use and share your company card information.