Today, cybersecurity tips for small businesses should not be taken lightly. If you are like millions of small-business owners in America, you probably cannot imagine how a cyber criminal halfway around the world could possibly cause your business to suffer a data security breach. After all, aren’t hackers busy enough with the Fortune 500?
Surprise! They are not — and even small businesses must embrace a cyber security strategy to protect their own business, their customers and their data from cyber threats. To keep your data safe, here are 8 cyber security tips designed for the smallest of businesses — because SMB data is just as valuable to today’s cyber criminals.
1. Train employees in security protocols: Establish basic security practices and policies for employees, such as requiring strong passwords, and establish appropriate Internet use guidelines that detail penalties for violating company cybersecurity policies. Establish rules of behavior describing how to handle and protect customer information and other vital data.
2. Protect data with clean machines: Keep clean machines: having the latest security software, web browser, and operating system are the best defenses against viruses, malware, and other online threats. Set antivirus software to run a scan after each update. Install other key software updates as soon as they are available.
3. Provide firewall security: A firewall is a set of related programs that prevent outsiders from accessing data on a private network. Make sure the operating system’s firewall is enabled or install firewall software. If employees work from home, ensure that their home system or even systems are protected by a firewall.
4. Create mobile device policy: Mobile devices can create significant security and management challenges, especially if they hold confidential information or can access the corporate network. Require users to password protect their devices, encrypt their data, and install security apps to prevent criminals from stealing information while the phone is on public networks. Be sure to set reporting procedures for lost or stolen equipment.
5. Make backup copies of important data — always: Regularly backup the data on all computers. Critical data includes word processing documents, electronic spreadsheets, databases, financial files, human resources files, and accounts receivable/payable files. Backup data automatically if possible, or at least weekly and store the copies either offsite or in the cloud.
6. Control employee access to data: Prevent access or use of business computers by unauthorized individuals. Laptops can be particularly easy targets for theft or can be lost, so lock them up when unattended. Make sure a separate user account is created for each employee and require strong passwords. Administrative privileges should only be given to trusted IT staff and key personnel.
7. Secure WiFi networks: If you have a WiFi network for your workplace, make sure it is secure, encrypted, and hidden. To hide your WiFi network, set up your wireless access point or router so it does not broadcast the network name, known as the Service Set Identifier (SSID). Password protect access to the router.
8. Multi-factor authentication is a safe bet: Require employees to use unique passwords and change passwords every three months. Consider implementing multi-factor authentication that requires additional information beyond a password to gain entry.
Check with your vendors that handle sensitive data, especially financial institutions, to see if they offer multi-factor authentication for your account.