Cyber attacks are on the rise, and you need to make sure that your small business is prepared to weather the storm. Over the last year, 34 percent of consumers had their personal information compromised. Here are 9 steps you can take to begin preparing against a cyber attack today.
You might think that your business is too small to bother or that your data isn’t valuable, but that isn’t the case. As more and more of our lives move to the digital space, the value of something as simple as a login and password will only skyrocket. Throw in other information you might collect about your customers, like birthdays, home addresses, and telephone numbers, and you have the makings of many potentially lucrative identity theft schemes.
While there’s no guarantee you’ll completely stop an attacker dedicated to breaching you with spear phishing and other individualized tactics, there’s a lot you can do to make sure you’re not a low-hanging fruit for cybercriminals. Here are nine cybersecurity best practices and steps you can take to ensure you’re ready for a cyber attack.
1. Conduct a Cyber Security Audit
If you’re going to improve cybersecurity at your small business, the first step you need to take is to make an honest assessment of where you are. Conducting a security audit is the first step towards making a plan for improving your resilience in case of a data breach or other cyber attack. Once you have a better idea of where your strengths and weaknesses lie, you can take the next steps to get better.
2. Use a Firewall
This might seem like obvious conventional wisdom, but it’s shocking how many businesses haven‘t taken the first step towards securing their network by running firewall software. The market is crowded, so make sure you take a close look at your options before deciding on which to use. Also, your security software is only as good as your update schedule—if you’re not on top of installing patches as new vulnerabilities and attacks are discovered, you might as well not use it.
3. Review Your Security Procedures Around Outgoing Employees
A surprising number of hacks and attacks come from disgruntled employees who still have access to a business’ system through old login information that was never cleaned up. This kind of data can spread easily among devices in today’s digital landscape, so make sure you’re using some sort of password manager to help you keep track of everything. Build processes to remove access promptly from anyone who needs to leave your team, whether that’s an employee or a vendor.
4. Train Your Employees in Best Practices
You need to make cybersecurity a part of your company’s culture if you want your employees helping to prevent hacks, instead of unwittingly making one possible. Phishing, waterholing, and other social engineering attacks take advantage of the fact that humans are a lot easier to exploit than a well-secured network.
Your employees need to know what dangers are out there and how to recognize them. Invest the time now, and you won’t need to worry about responding to an expensive data breach down the road.
5. Make Cyber Security a Part of Your Onboarding Process
Similar to training, it’s especially important to set the tone for new employees that your small business values security. Make sure you’re taking the time to get new hires on the same page, especially when they’re making key decisions like choosing their login credentials.
6. Use Password Best Practices
Make sure that your small business is following best practices when it comes to passwords. A password manager that can generate different randomized login info for each website can be a real boon here and also make it easier to share that info across teams. With a new data breach popping up seemingly every day, many people’s go-to credentials are already available on the dark web, waiting for a script to plug them into the right website.
7. Patch Your Devices and Firmware
Every device connected to your network, from your mobile phone to your printer, can be a potential access point for a cyber attacker. Keeping your computer updated is a no-brainer, but make sure you’re also keeping track of any patches for everything else that’s on your network. Schedule yourself a reminder each month to check for updates, or work with someone who can take care of it for you.
8. Consider Managed IT Services
Keeping on top your network security can feel like a fulltime job, especially when, as a small business owner, you’re already trying to keep all the other plates spinning. Managed IT services can give you a helping hand a price you can afford, with 24/7 network monitoring, device updates, IT support, and more. This type of service can also grow with you, providing you with the scalability you need.
9. Take the Time to Practice
Just like with anything else, your business is much more likely to survive a data breach if you have a plan in place for dealing with it. Take the time to practice responding, not just for the sake of your IT people but also for marketing and customer service, who will also have to deal with the consequences of an attack. You’ll make better decisions if you’ve already taken the time to think through all possible outcomes.
What You Can Do To Begin to Begin Preparing Your Business for a Cyber Attack Today
With data breaches and cyber attacks on the rise, make sure your small business is ready for whatever might happen. Take the time to secure your network, get your employees on the same page, and plan for likely scenarios now. It’s better to have a plan you don’t have to use than to not have one when you really need it.
● Conduct a security audit to understand where you most need to improve.
● Help your employees help you with training, onboarding, and password best practices.
● Patch devices and use a firewall to make your network a hardened target.
● Consider using managed IT services to do the heavy lifting.
● Make a plan now for what to do in the event of a breach, and practice executing it.
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