Cybersecurity is a major concern for businesses across all industries, but there are simple steps you can take to ensure your organisation is as protected as possible
Data protection has become one of the most important factors of running a business in the modern age. After all, society is more dependent on digital technologies than ever before, entrusting the safety of information and business security to tools that can offer great benefits. However, they are not without risk.
This creates a treasure trove for hackers and cybercriminals, who look to corrupt or steal data for their own gain or cause. And that means that businesses must be aware of how and why you should be building business defences within your organisation.
For small businesses, this can be difficult. While you might think small businesses would successfully fly under the radar for hackers, who would likely have their eyes on larger prizes like big corporations, in fact the opposite is usually true. Many hackers consider small businesses to be easy targets, which is why more than half (58%) of cyber attack victims are small businesses, according to the 2018 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report.
And the consequences of a security breach can be huge, with 60% of small businesses who are forced to suspend operations due to cyberattack never reopening.
But this doesn’t mean that small businesses should feel powerless about cybersecurity. There are, in fact, plenty of simple and cost-effective things small businesses can do in order to improve their data protection in the long run. That’s why we’ve put together this list of eight simple ways to improve your small business cybersecurity. Let’s take a look.
Assess your current security level
The first thing you should do in order to improve your cybersecurity levels is to gauge a clear idea of where your business currently stands. This might mean roping in the help of an in-house team member, or perhaps the expertise of an outsourced IT Support London team, or using your own expertise if you have it. However you do it, gaining a better understanding of where you’re currently at can alert you to ways in which you can improve your security over time.
You can even complete quizzes and surveys from trusted sources that are designed to give you an idea of how well protected your business is at the moment.
Increase your understanding
As well as getting a better understanding of your own business security, you should also make the effort to improve your understanding of cybersecurity as a whole, including being aware of current and common threats.
There is a huge amount of material available online designed to provide cybersecurity content in easily digestible terms. By improving your understanding of data protection and the threats a cyberattack can pose, you’ll not only be in a better position to protect your business but, if you do choose to opt for outsourced support, you’ll be able to communicate more effectively with IT experts.
Invest in the right software
For small businesses, every purchase matters. You may be operating with the bare minimum virus protection software, in order to save yourself short term costs. However, the costs of dealing with the fallout of a cyberattack are much greater than those of investing in suitable protection.
With modern security platforms and software, there’s no need for small businesses to have to fork out huge costs upfront. The likes of cloud software offer safe and secure software that can be easily shared throughout the business, and can be acquired for small monthly or annual payments. This can provide peace of mind that your business data is more secure, without extreme costs.
Having off-site or online services creates a large hole in cybersecurity levels. As such, it can be very beneficial to invest in a small to mid-range in house server, in order to store the personal information of employees and clients.
Encrypt your data
Encryption adds an extra layer of defence to your business security. It may not make a hacker less likely to target your business, but it does mean its much harder for them to use any data they access if they do target your organisation.
That’s because encryption effectively codes your documentation, meaning it appears nonsensical to anyone who doesn’t have the authorisation to access it. And while some hackers are able to crack these kinds of codes, it does make your data less appealing to cybercriminals, as well as giving you more time to act on a hack before any lasting damage is done.
Ensure that your website is secure
Many small businesses use basic website builders for their business site and don’t choose to purchase any upsell packages, which means there is effectively no basic security on your website. In order to remedy this, it’s important to add a secure log in and https before the rest of your website address.
Https is a safer and more reliable option for small business websites. Ask a professional to review your website or do it yourself if you have the knowledge, seeking out key ways the security level can be improved.
Seek out the support of experts
An IT monitoring company can be a hugely beneficial asset in helping you fight off cyberattacks and spot weaknesses before an incident occurs. This all helps to keep your small business as secure and safe online as possible.
IT support companies are able to test your business security themselves, mimicking techniques that hackers would use. This clearly identifies any areas which may be more vulnerable, allowing you to act on them quickly, effectively and proactively.
Improve employee understanding
It’s not enough for a business owner to understand the risks involved in cybersecurity. Communicating this knowledge to your team is vital. An informed employee is an employee who is far less likely to make a mistake that could lead to a cyber incident down the line. Give your employees the time and resources to learn more about the importance of cybersecurity within your business. Doing so will make them less likely to fall for common hacker techniques such as phishing attempts.
Even simple steps, like making sure everybody in the business is using strong, individual passwords which are regularly updated, can improve your business’s cybersecurity levels significantly.
Reduce user access
If you are the administrator of the user within your business, you have the power to restrict access to certain data from certain accounts. A lot of businesses don’t think to do this, meaning that essentially anyone within the business can access or alter any piece of data. However, making sure people only have access to the data they need to do their job effectively greatly reduces the risk of a cyberattack becoming catastrophic. If one of these accounts get hijacked by a cybercriminal, having restricted access means that the entire business will not be put at risk as a result.
Cybersecurity levels are dictated by you and the actions you choose to take to benefit your business. In short, your business will only be as secure as you want it to be. Ensuring that you and all your team are using secure networks is a key step to improving these security levels.