Running a small company is no easy task. On top of managing daily operations, overseeing a growing staff, working toward long-term goals, and somehow fitting your personal life into the mix, you must learn how to protect your business from cyber-attacks.
Cybercriminals’ strategies evolve as security technology advances, so knowing basic and advanced protection methods is essential to keep your data safe.
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Make Backups of Everything
Many cybercriminals don’t stop at accessing your business information but will also remove it from your device or encrypt it and demand a ransom for the code.
The only way to ensure those criminals can’t use your data for their gain is to back up a second copy on a separate device with a unique password. If a cybercriminal keeps your data away from you on one device, you can move to a secondary machine they cannot access.
It’s vital to make another copy of your backup if a cyber attacker breaches your data to ensure they can’t take your only backup plan, too.
Encrypt Your Data
Data encryption disguises your data as a unique code every time you send it to someone or store it on the cloud. Such data camouflaging makes it harder for cyber attackers to detect your data, and even if they do, they’ll need to get through the encryption before accessing it.
Most internet routers have encryption settings that encrypt your data automatically. However, you can also install a virtual private network (VPN) that takes your data away from the public eye for added protection.
Install Security Software
When most people think about how to protect their business from cyber-attacks, they jump right into security software—and with good reason. Cybersecurity programs are strong, cost-effective lines of defense against most cyber-attacks, assuming you have the right ones.
Over half of business data breaches are due to malware and viruses, so springing for a high-quality anti-virus program for your work devices can protect you from the most common cyber threats.
Educate Your Employees and Change the Culture
Data encryption and security tools only go so far if you and your employees don’t know how to identify and avoid scams and cyber-attacks. That’s why it’s essential to educate your team and yourself regularly on what phishing emails look like, what websites and links they should avoid, and what data they should refrain from sharing.
Cybersecurity education should be more than a one-time event. Security software and cyber-attacks constantly evolve, and it’s vital to keep your team up to date on the latest trends from attackers to avoid them.
With that cybersecurity education should come a security-focused culture reset. Most data breaches happen when employees share their passwords too frivolously or use easy-to-predict credentials. Hammering home the importance of keeping your passwords secret and using advanced login information will strengthen your business.
Protect Your Customers, Too
Your customers’ information matters as much as your own, and you must work to protect it to maintain their trust.
Building websites on secure servers to discourage data breaches, building a website for safe transactions with minimal third-party influence, and communicating with clients on secure channels can ensure your customers stay protected. Not only will that build strong client-business relationships, but it will also save you from data breach lawsuits.
Sometimes, the simplest security methods are also the strongest.
Multi-factor authentication requires you to verify your identity through multiple channels to ensure the person trying to access data is who they say they are. For example, rather than logging in to your email by entering your username and password, multi-factor authentication asks you for those credentials and a unique code that it sends to a secondary device.
Cybercriminals might uncover your login credentials, but if they can’t see your secondary sign-in device, they won’t be able to hack your data.
Hire a Security Specialist
It can feel impossible to know how to protect a business from cyber-attacks when you constantly must focus on your company’s standard operations. You don’t have to go at it alone.
You can hire cybersecurity professionals to audit your company and search for safety weaknesses. They will look through your technology to find overlooked spots and recommend fixes. Many even have protection software they can install on your devices as an extra layer of defence.
Never Get Sloppy With Passwords
Operating system passwords can be some of the best tools against cybercriminals when you do them right and detrimental to your company when you do them wrong.
If you use short, easy-to-predict passwords with no case variance or special characters, your small business’s data will be at risk of a breach. But, if you follow these expert password-setting tips, you’ll have a better chance of keeping hackers at bay:
- Set passwords that are at least 14 characters long.
- Use lower and uppercase letters, numbers, and special characters like punctuation throughout.
- Avoid personally meaningful words or phrases, like your birthday or your partner’s name. Instead, opt for unpredictable terms that you’ll remember but attackers can’t immediately figure out.
- Come up with a different password that follows these criteria for each device.
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