The days where cyber-security was something that small business could afford to neglect are long gone. Today, the threat of cyber-attacks is simply too large, imminent, and dangerous to ignore.
Of course, hope is not yet lost. There are plenty of things that you can do in order to set up a good line of defense against cyber-attacks. Some of these will not even be costly, especially considering the repercussions from a large-scale attack on your business.
1.Keep your systems up-to-date
The struggle of keeping systems updated all the time is something that most businesses are familiar with. The truth is that there are many valid reasons why updating systems is a huge hassle and potential financial burden for companies.
For example, you may be using a certain version of software that all of your employees are familiar with but which does not work on updated systems. In such cases, you must still do your best to protect those vulnerable systems, including cutting off their network access whenever possible and using strong firewalls and security software.
In all other cases, keeping systems updated is a great way to prevent attacks. System updates often solve major issues which you could not have possibly caught or prevented by yourself.
2.Back up your data
Before the rise of cloud storage services, backing up your data was quite a difficult process. Regardless of whether you backed up online or offline, you still had to invest a considerable amount of money and time.
Now, however, cloud storage solutions are simple, affordable, and very fast. While they are still an investment for any small business, the benefits of having your data available on the cloud are tremendous.
That is not to say, of course, that those services cannot be compromised. Major services like Dropbox and iCloud have fallen victim to cyber-attacks. However, having your data backed up on the cloud means that you will at least be protected by certain types of attacks such as ransomware.
3. Train and educate
In this day and age, it is simply unthinkable to believe that an employee can have a security-sensitive role without receiving appropriate training and education on subjects of cyber-security and potential threats.
Cyber-threats can come in more ways than you can imagine. An experienced hacker may be able to social engineer his way through the lower ranks of any company, particularly through employees which have not been trained against this sort of attack.
The same is true for any kind of position. Small businesses are more connected and dependent on the Internet than ever. As any expert will tell you, untrained and uneducated employees (on matters of cyber-security) represent the weakest points in any system, even in an otherwise strong one.
4.Get regular risk assessments
While all of the above are great things to put into practice, you will not really know how protected your systems are until they are actually assessed by a professional.
Depending on where you are located, you may even be able to get risk assessments for free. For instance, the UK government’s Cyber Essentials shows you several things you can do to protect yourself while it also allows you to complete free assessments.
5.Check and correct your security
Because of the fact that phrases like “cyber-security” seem to encompass an incredible number of different processes, many small businesses seem lost when it comes to the actual implementation of secure practices.
What you will find, however, is that your business may be following several non-secure practices which can nevertheless be easily corrected. For instance, passwords are always a great place to start.
Passwords should not be reused and they should be regularly changed. Enforcing password policies is a good way to go about doing that; any IT specialist should be able to help you there, though information is also readily available online.
Remember that while you may know how to protect your privacy online, you also have the responsibility of protecting the privacy and security of your customers.