Getting hacked may seem like something that only happens to governments and massive corporations. But the truth is very different from the headlines. Small businesses are easy targets for hackers due to poor security.
Last year alone, 42% of small businesses were targets of cyberattacks. That means without the proper security in place, it is nearly inevitable that your business will be attacked eventually.
Don’t worry, not all attacks are successful. Maintaining strong cybersecurity can help repel attacks by hackers and other unscrupulous agents. Below, you’ll learn some basic measures to protect your company from hackers.
Have a Cybersecurity Plan
Installing some security software and locking your servers is not enough to prevent an attack. You need to have a comprehensive cybersecurity plan. This includes:
- Your Current cybersecurity measures
- Steps for implementing further security
- Vulnerability assessment and management
- Attack surface management
- Access control policy
- Staff duties and access permissions
Basically, your plan exists to map out potential attack threats and to provide solutions before and after the fact. Sitting down and taking stock of your current security measures is a good way to start.
If you often work with customers’ sensitive data online, you may want to enlist help from a third-party specialist, who can assist with many aspects of vulnerability management, such as application penetration testing.
Educate Your Staff
Your cybersecurity plan might seem like a secret. And it’s true that others should not know your vulnerabilities. But your staff needs to be well informed of the risk of hackers. It’s very important that your staff understands how they can expose your software and hardware to attack. Something as simple as leaving a computer unattended can result in a malware attack.
Don’t just educate some of your staff. Cybersecurity applies to everyone who works on your network or in your physical workspace. Conduct semi-annual meetings and provide regular updates on cybersecurity to keep your staff sharp.
Use a Firewall
A good firewall is the first defense against hackers. But are you using the right one? If you’re still using free software, it might be time to upgrade to a paid version. You don’t need to pay much to protect your small business. Costly enterprise firewalls are made for much larger businesses, and you don’t likely need that level of protection.
A standard firewall will protect your assets and leave room for your business to grow.
Change Passwords Regularly
Changing your passwords every 3 months should keep you safe from hackers. This applies to everyone who works for your business and interacts with your network. Employees usually don’t like to change passwords often, so make it a requirement. And, remind them not to use the same passwords they use on their personal devices.
Even if you choose iron-clad 16-character passwords, you still need to change them regularly to protect against potential data leaks.
Limit Access to Sensitive Materials
Controlling access is a major part of preventing hackers from getting their hands on your data. Consider each person in your company to be a doorway for a hacker. By limiting access to data and hardware on a “need-to-know” basis, you can close a bunch of those doors.
Hackers who manage to launch an attack may reach a dead end when the vulnerability they’ve attacked doesn’t lead to the data they want.
Remember that this applies to both digital and physical assets. Access to digital files should be limited, and access to your computers, servers, and other hardware should also be restricted to the appropriate personnel. In other words, don’t give everyone a key to the castle.
Back up Your Data
A robust backup plan can protect you from ransomware attacks and other damaging hacks. Backing your files up on Google Drive isn’t good enough. Small businesses are recommended to back up their data on physical external hard drives. You’ll need to do this often to keep your data up to date, and you should have more than one backup hard drive.
Remember to store your data in a safe space away from the location of your business.
With properly backed up data, you won’t have to pay hackers a ransom if they hold your data hostage. However, they can still sell your data on underground markets, which is why many companies invest in dark web monitoring.
Don’t Let Hackers Get the Upper Hand
Hackers are staging more attacks than ever, but it doesn’t mean your business will fall victim. Follow the advice above and consider cybersecurity a priority at every stage of your small business to prevent hacks and ensure a profitable future.