Cyber Security for Small Businesses – Best Practices
Cyber security is a relatively new concept to small businesses. Recently, information technology has become an integral part of many business operations, and often small businesses do not understand how exposed they are online. Smaller companies tend to think that their cybersecurity needs could be lessened or overlooked because they don’t have the resources of larger companies.
However, threats are just as real to smaller businesses. If not taken seriously, cyber security threats can take a significant toll on your company’s daily operations and pose many risks for long-term growth.
What Are the Common Cyber Security Threats for a Small Business?
Although technology has made life easier, it has also brought with it new security risks. Cyber hackers are constantly looking for ways into the system of your business to steal information or cause damage. The most common cyber threats include:
Malware (Malicious Software)
It is malicious code that may be unknowingly installed on computers and accessed by hackers remotely. Malware can cause harm by interfering with the regular running, stealing sensitive data, and taking control of systems to use as part of a botnet (malicious network) for email spamming or participating in denial-of-service attacks.
Denial-of-Service (DoS) Attack
A DoS attack attempt is made to make a machine or network resource unavailable to its intended users. An outside hacker may conduct this attack, numerous computers under their control called robot networks (botnets) or by using one’s own computer/network under the direction of the hacker. These attacks are aimed at websites, servers, etc.
Theft of Information
Malicious individuals may gain access to your company’s sensitive data. This can be used in several ways, including financial fraud and stealing trade secrets for corporate espionage.
Mobile Security Risks
As mobile devices grow steadily in the workplace, so do the risks that come with it. Employees often have their own mobile devices for work purposes. These devices are not as secure as the company-owned technology and can cause many data protection issues that put sensitive information at risk if not properly protected.
How to Assess Your Business Security Risks
Cyber hackers prey on small business owners who are often unaware of the potential threats they face. Your company’s data must be protected, especially if you process personal information like account numbers or Social Security details.
The best way to assess your security risks is to do an audit using a public cloud service that gives you the ability to automatically analyze your critical infrastructure, including servers, desktops, and mobile devices. You can also take help from specialized cybersecurity services.
Aspects of your cyber security system to monitor include:
You should know what devices are connected to your network and which company operates them – it’s a good idea to keep the list up-to-date as well. The network infrastructure audit will include information about your network topology, security configuration, and the devices on the network.
- All updates for operating systems and applications should be current, as well as patches and fixes for identified vulnerabilities.
- Setting up a firewall that allows only those that the company has approved to access information from outside access to it. This includes passwords, data, and servers.
- A review of the network environment to identify any breaches or potential problems that could lead to a breach, including software vulnerabilities and automated network scans.
It is essential to know what hardware and operating systems are running on your computers as it is with all company-owned laptops and tablets. You will want to ensure that all updates for operating systems and applications are current and patches and fixes for identified vulnerabilities.
- Ensure that all software security updates have been installed, use a filter to redirect your scans into a virtual sandbox environment, and then scan the files to identify if they contain any malware.
- Review all workstations to look for devices with open ports that should not be exposed to the internet.
- Allow only your current employees or vendors to access your network and ensure no unauthorized devices are connected to it by running regular vulnerability scans.
Business Network Protection
A business network is used for storing sensitive data like customer, employee, and corporate information. You want to protect this information from being lost or stolen.
- Securely store and manage passwords, login credentials, and other access codes for network devices such as routers and firewalls as well as wireless networks.
- Review security policies to make sure that they are up-to-date and reflect current threats. Companies should also create contingency plans in the event of a data breach.
Cybersecurity Best Practices for Small Businesses
There are some basic steps that any small business can take to protect itself from cyber threats. To get started, choose a firm with experience in the industry so they know what to look for when performing security audits on your business’s computer systems. They will offer cybersecurity services like:
A system that detects, prevents, and monitors unauthorized access to your network. It includes software specifically created to detect malware activity among any devices using the OS or browsing the internet.
- Anti-malware software to remove viruses, worms, adware, and spyware from networks of any size.
- Encryption protects data in transit by securing it with solid SSL (Secure Socket Layer) encryption.
- Security suite that includes protection against viruses, trojans, and all other malware for endpoints.
- Service that restores company files to the state they were in before the data breach by restoring data from backup storage space after hackers steal information like account numbers or Social Security details.
- An automated system that reports on security vulnerabilities and recommends patches for any weaknesses.
It checks a list of URLs (Universal Resource Locators) of websites you know are safe for your employees to visit as well as those which pose a risk. This helps keep work time focused on productive tasks and manages risks by limiting exposure to social media and other sites that might put your employee’s privacy at risk.
- It consists of security software that scans websites and documents for threats like malicious files (viruses, adware, spyware), unsafe downloads, and phishing attacks.
- Protocol that controls the way data is transmitted over secure connections via the internet. The stronger the encryption via SSL, the more secure your data will be.
- Encryption of email messages and attachments so only intended recipients can read them. It is accomplished by encrypting files with a public key and decrypting with a private key. A message is encrypted when sent and decrypted on receipt to keep sensitive information from being exposed or seen by a third party.
- A type of software that detects and blocks suspicious activity on your network, such as attempted intrusions from outside sources to access sensitive company data.
It allows you to track devices that are vulnerable or exposed to cyber threats and then lock them down with the appropriate security measures. It provides visibility into device attributes, status, and configuration information.
- Software to secure your mobile devices from cyber threats while also preventing security breaches.
- A type of software that detects changes in the behavior of a user’s device, including unauthorized access attempts by other parties looking to steal private data. It can keep tabs on where employees are while using the device and what they are doing.
- App that allows you to wipe your device for security purposes should it be lost or stolen. It deletes all personal information like emails, text messages, photos, videos, and contacts and removes any phone password protection.
It detects phishing attempts (false emails or websites that appear legitimate but are fake, which is how hackers gain access to private data). It notifies you of them so you can protect yourself.
- A suite of anti-phishing technologies that work together to prevent identity theft via email by eliminating spoofing, information disclosure, and malware attacks. It detects sites impersonating existing businesses, blocking these sites, and alerting customers.
- Service that gives you private email access to your corporate accounts from any device via a cloud-based system. It also retrieves archived emails from your corporate archives that are too large for regular email services to handle.
What Do I Do If I Get Hacked?
To avoid getting hacked in the first place, take these steps.
- Enable firewalls to block unauthorized access to networks and computers.
- Make sure all systems are kept up-to-date with security patches.
- Use anti-virus software for your computer, email server, and Internet gateway if possible.
If you do get hacked, the experts recommend these steps. Immediately change all passwords that may have been compromised or used on other sites for sensitive information like bank accounts, investment data, and social security numbers. (It’s better to take precautions than risk someone else getting in without you knowing.)
- Update your anti-virus software.
- Contact law enforcement and your local FBI office to report the crime.
- Consider contacting a cyber security professional for help or hiring one to assess the damage and develop a plan of action.
- Train employees on how to avoid falling victim to phishing attempts and social engineering.
- Back up your files regularly, especially if they contain sensitive information for the business.
Cybersecurity is a serious concern for businesses today. But by taking steps to prevent attacks, knowing how to react if they occur, and educating employees on the need for security, small businesses can lessen their exposure to cyber threats. If you want to talk to a cybersecurity expert give us a call today.