Every day, we’re fighting to protect our businesses against a growing number of factors. The competition might be undercutting us, and hackers are constantly looming, threatening to lock us out of our systems and steal our data. Cyber threats are not to be taken lightly, and knowing how to protect your assets is half the battle. The other is putting that knowledge to work. That’s why we’re here, with some easily applicable strategies you can use to improve cybersecurity in your small business.
Keep Everything up to Date
Most hacking methods rely on known vulnerabilities in computer systems. Those can be omissions in code, unprotected ports, or simply pieces of obsolete hardware. Therefore, regular updates to operating systems and all applications are a must, if you wish to keep your system protected against bad actors. Software companies are always re-examining the security of their apps and, when they discover a vulnerability, they’ll quickly issue a patch that fixes the potential hacker entry. Staying informed about these issues and following through will save you a lot of potential headaches.
On the hardware side, periodically upgrading your network is a great practice. No device lasts forever and, like software, can be hacked if it’s available to the general public long enough for hackers to have figured their ins and outs. Another rule of thumb is to avoid Internet of Things (IoT) devices in the office, as a lot of sensitive data flows through the network they would be connected to. Anything with a “smart” attribute, like plugs, thermostats, speakers, and whatnot, are at the top of any hacker’s target list.
Perform Regular Backups
Ransomware is, unfortunately, still a thing. Businesses big and small are falling prey to this nasty malware type every day, and getting locked out of their systems, losing precious data and essential projects along the way. However, backing everything up saves you from data loss, at least.
Not only that, but natural disasters can also physically ruin your system. That’s why it’s crucial to perform regular backups, keeping a copy of a copy if needed, so you can quickly restore all files and get back on your feet. Of course, it’s better if nothing like that ever happens, but it’s better to have a set of backups you don’t use than no backups at all.
Security Software and a VPN
The strongest fort isn’t built from the thickest bricks, but has layers of walls, moats, and gates. The same principle applies to building cybersecurity systems today: This layered approach to data protection helps slow down any intrusions. In other words, you need a strong antivirus, coupled with a firewall (software or hardware), at the very least.
A VPN is an extra layer on top of the previous two, as it masks network traffic and encrypts all incoming and outgoing data. Of course, everything we said about keeping software up to date goes for all the security solutions you install on your company devices, too.
Train Your Employees
There’s a saying in the cybersecurity community – the strongest antivirus is you. The thing is, all these layers of security can easily fall apart due to human error. All it takes is one click on a malicious link, and hackers know this very well. That’s why they use so-called “campaigns” to push out legitimate-looking emails into unsuspecting targets’ inboxes, trying to trick at least one of them to install malware on a company computer and, thus, enable remote access to it.
Knowing how to differentiate legitimate from fraudulent emails, websites, and files is very important in this age of ransomware. Your employees should also know how to properly create secure passwords, and it’s highly recommended to use user-level-based clearance, so not everyone has access to all the content on your network.
Create a Cybersecurity Team Within Your Company
As your company grows, you might realize you need an expert security team at hand. Organizing a department dedicated to building and maintaining your cybersecurity system may be an expensive investment, but it ends up paying for itself. This team can be tasked with enforcing protocols you might have, creating new ones, and training employees along the way.
Cybersecurity is a complex matter, but one we can’t afford to neglect. The strategies we covered in this article are building blocks for a robust cybersecurity system, but it’s up to you to get the most potential out of them.