Small businesses and startups face plenty of challenges. You might be strapped for resources, short on staffing, or still working toward being profitable. Add the risk of data breaches and things get even more complicated.
Many small business owners think they’re not at risk of a cyber attack. However, statistics prove otherwise: As many as half of all data breaches occur at small businesses. That’s because hackers know their security measures tend to be lax.
Warding off data breaches does involve spending some of your hard-earned profits. For example, there are some must-have protections you will need to implement, including anti-virus software and firewalls. However, there are a number of inexpensive measures you can also take. For example, you can beef up your password policies. And you can purchase software for monitoring employees. These measures will greatly increase your defenses.
Let’s take a closer look at some further strategies here.
Restrict User Access
A business’s own employees cause many data breaches, either accidentally or maliciously. Therefore, limit access to sensitive information, data and systems only to those staff members who absolutely need it. Employees who don’t have confidential information in the first place can’t lose it or steal it. Also, prevent employees from downloading new software without prior permission.
Require Strong Credentials
You’re likely well aware that strong passwords are crucial for security. However, do you enforce this as a policy? Your system should require employees to change their passwords with some regularity, at least once per quarter. Additionally, it should require complex passwords of at least 14 digits. What’s more, it should call for both uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols.
Monitor Your Employees
Employee tracking software is an affordable and easily managed way of reducing risk. Software for monitoring employees allows you to create rules for how anyone can use data and information. For example, you can restrict anyone from emailing or printing highly sensitive data. The software also alerts you when anyone violates the rules you establish. Therefore, you can quickly address risky behavior.
Regulate Mobile Devices
Smartphones, tablets and laptops pose a major risk. This is especially true when employees use them to access sensitive business information and the devices aren’t secure. A single lost or stolen device can cripple your business if it doesn’t have the proper protections.
Create a policy that outlines whether employees can use personal devices for work purposes. Further, if you decide to allow it, provide details about how devices must be made secure. For example, will you require a password for access or a thumbprint?
Additionally, if your company provides mobile devices, make sure to protect each one with a password. Set them up to automatically install security updates. Ensure that they can be remotely wiped if they happen to be lost or stolen.
Finally, install your software for monitoring employees on all mobile devices, too.
Create Data Storage Rules
Just as you want to restrict how certain data is shared, it’s important to set rules for how data can be stored. Restrict the use of removable devices such as USB drives, particularly for sensitive information. These tiny devices are easily lost. This increases the risk that confidential information will fall into the wrong hands.
Educate Your Employees
Employees who have a good understanding of cybersecurity risks and prevention best practices are far less likely to put your data in jeopardy. Create a culture of awareness where everyone talks about, learns about and enforces cybersecurity. Furthermore, make sure that employees feel comfortable reporting violations or risks.
Being honest with your employees is key to creating this type of culture. If you’re blocking access to certain websites or apps, explain why they pose a risk. Further, let your staff know what you’re doing if you’re implementing software for monitoring employees. If you’re respectful of your staff, they’ll likely return the favor.