Security is an increasingly significant concern among business owners, and for good reason. The global cost of cybercrime crossed the $600 billion threshold last year. What’s more, it’s small businesses that are often the targets.
Given the growing number and sophistication of cyberattacks that target small businesses, you might assume the best way to solve the problem is to throw money at it. For example, you might think you should adopt a complicated infrastructure to keep your operations safe.
Not all cyberattacks are the result of a malicious, planned assault. In fact, most security breaches are opportunistic. Hackers simply target inherent weaknesses and exploit them.
Thus, you can prevent the majority of cyberattacks with some simple steps.
1. Shred All Your Documents
This security measure dates back decades. However, it’s more useful now than ever. Invest in a high-quality paper shredder. Then use it consistently. You can mostly stop worrying then about theft of a password, username, account number, or other sensitive information. Even mostly paperless businesses sometimes print documents. Or they receive pages that contain valuable information. Don’t let that information fall into the wrong hands.
2. Choose Strong Passwords
Your business probably uses dozens of accounts, from your invoicing and accounting software to your personal brand social media accounts. Hackers can easily guess or brute-force passwords that are weak. Therefore, it’s in your best interest to choose strong passwords. Craft your passwords to contain both uppercase and lowercase letters as well as numbers and special symbols. The more characters your password contains, the stronger it is.
3. Change Your Passwords Regularly
It’s not enough to choose one strong password and use it for all your accounts indefinitely. If you use the same password all the time, it will be easier for cybercriminals to gain access to your systems. It’s much better to change all your passwords regularly. For most purposes, once or twice a year might be enough. However, more sensitive applications could use a quarterly change.
4. Choose Your Software Partners Wisely
Your business relies on many different software programs for every department. Each of those apps might be managed by a different firm. If one of those companies manages your data irresponsibly and suffers a data breach, your business could suffer. Therefore, invest in partners you can trust. Choose software partners who take your cybersecurity seriously.
5. Enforce a Strict BYOD Policy
Bring your own device (BYOD) policies are becoming more common, thanks to the ubiquity of smartphones and other personal devices. These can maximize productivity and keep workers happy. On the other hand, though, they can also be points of vulnerability for your firm. For example, if one device has malware, and it tries to access your network, it could end up affecting all other devices on that network. Establish stricter policies to prevent this from happening.
6. Educate Employees on Common Schemes
Your business can also suffer a breach if one of your employees falls for a phishing scheme or another common attempt to snag someone’s credentials. Keeping your employees educated is the best and most efficient way to stop these tactics from breaking in.
7. Keep Your Devices Updated
Hardware and software companies issue updates for a reason. New operating system and app updates are often designed to protect against recent threats. Mandate that your employees update their devices and apps regularly. This will help you maintain the best level of protection. It will absorb a few extra minutes to finish installing, but the long-term security makes it worth it.
8. Stay Alert
You can also keep your business safer simply by staying alert. Monitor your Internet activity and pay close attention to user behavior patterns in the apps your employees use most often. If you notice an aberration, you might be able to take action before it’s too late. You will also need to find a way to enforce your employees’ adherence to your new policies.
As you probably know, cyberattacks only keep getting more sophisticated. Nonetheless, the basic practices above will guard against the majority of opportunistic threats. However, it pays to keep track of the latest malware, scams, and attacks in circulation.
Read the news regularly and stay proactive. You never know when a simple change or update could be all you need to prevent a security breach.