Over the past few years, cybercrime has become a growing threat. Big corporations aren’t the only ones in harm’s way. A recent study by IBM discovered that around 62% of cyberattacks are against small and mid-sized businesses. If you’re a business owner concerned about security, there are a few basic steps that you can take to minimize risk. Here are six simple cybersecurity tips for small business owners.
Employ Endpoint Security
Endpoint security protocol is a recognition of the fact that the modern workplace contains a bewildering array of interconnected devices. Smartphones allow time-saving tools like advanced shipping API and project management software, but decentralized computing presents a security risk: The security “chain” is as strong as its weakest link. Endpoint security means standardization. Make sure that every worker and manager has high-quality antivirus software installed. If the same devices get used for both business and personal tasks, insist that users not visit sites that could compromise security. Good security practices are everyone’s job.
Train Workers to Spot Threats
A recent study done in part by Stanford University researchers paints a bleak picture regarding human error in cybercrime. The research found that around 85% of security breaches originated with user error. Impatience and a lack of knowledge were responsible for much of this security shortfall. Teach all employees to recognize the warning signs of impending attacks. Teach them how to tell a legitimate website from a fraudulent mockup. Don’t penalize people for taking extra time to do things right. Cybercriminals depend on someone screwing up in small ways every day, so keep those simple mistakes to a minimum.
Utilize Zero-Trust Architecture
Zero trust security architecture isn’t new. The necessity of it, however, is only now being fully realized. A zero trust approach means assuming nothing. Never take for granted that someone accessing your network has good intentions. Insist upon proper credentials from all visitors, using multifactor authentication methods like keywords and randomly-generated passcodes if possible. Limit the new user’s lateral movement within your system to the minimum necessary to complete their task. These simple acts of vigilance could save a lot of money in a worst-case scenario.
Install Firewall Security
One of the most costly attacks today is ransomware. In these breaches, a hacker installs malicious software on a targeted computer, allowing them to assume control of that machine. One of the most common vectors is a link sent via email or text. A firewall mediates between your network and the rest of the internet. Firewall systems filter incoming emails by operating like an advanced spam folder, analyzing and flagging suspicious ones. Think of firewalls as a second layer of security atop your basic antivirus programs.
Insist on Strong Passwords
Weak passwords play a massive role in security breaches. One recent study by Verizon found that around 61% of attacks originated from stolen or compromised credentials. An ideal password should be 12 characters in length or more. “Characters” can (and should) be a mix of alphanumerics and symbols in somewhat random order. Never let a password be something easy to remember or based on a personal fact. These are equally simple for hackers to guess. If you or a worker writes a password down on a slip of paper, treat that paper as if it’s a set of keys. It is one.
Safeguard Data Offline
It’s often a good idea to take the most vital data somewhere hackers can’t find it: offline. Cloud security is typically good but not flawless. Quality can vary by provider. Storing client identity data and financial records on a flash drive can be convenient. These storage devices often come with biometric locks and similar security augmentations. Keeping hard copies of sensitive documents in a locked cabinet or safe is a low-tech option for dealing with an issue endemic to high-tech society. Whether your company is long-established in the market or a startup, there are always new ways to improve security. Keep these tips in mind and keep cyber criminals away from your assets.