If you run a small business you need to start treating cyber security as a serious issue. On one hand you have increasingly sophisticated criminal hackers. On the other there are tighter laws and industry standards regarding the need to protect data. Therefore, putting more investment into your defenses is doubly important for you. Here are five tips that almost every small business should practice to improve its cyber security.
1. Assess Your Security on a Regular Basis
Regularly assess and test your company’s IT infrastructure. Ensure that it is as free from security vulnerabilities as possible. Perhaps you are worried that you could have some weaknesses. Or maybe you believe that your system is as strong as it can be. Either way, have an outside agency attempt to breach your defenses in a test scenario. This can provide a great deal of highly useful information.
This method of testing is called penetration testing. In simple terms, cyber security professionals attempt to gain access to your computer systems. They use the same techniques that hackers and cyber criminals might use. This is one of the most effective ways to identify vulnerabilities. Moreover, it will test your company’s infrastructure and networks as well as its applications. In short, penetration testers detect weaknesses and vulnerabilities that real-life malicious hackers could exploit.
However, having one penetration test and fixing the flaws in the system does not mean you are then protected indefinitely. Cyber tactics and procedures advance quickly. The emergence of new flaws means that it’s important to perform assessments regularly.
2. Keep Systems Updated and Patched
One of the key mistakes that many businesses make is that they do not keep computers, laptops and mobile devices up to date. To put it bluntly, update everything as soon as possible to the latest available versions. This includes operating systems, antivirus software, applications, and web browsers. Often manufacturers release updates in order to deal with known security issues.
Make sure that you and your employees know to check for new versions of software. Train your staff to update as soon as new versions become available. Doing so can prevent you from being at risk from common attacks.
3. Back up Important Data
It is good practice to get into the habit of keeping an offsite backup. Include all the information stored on your business’s network in this backup.
Imagine a scenario in which you have lost important information. Or that you have suffered a data breach and thieves have stolen private data. With an offsite backup you would be able to restore any compromised data. This would help to quickly overcome the incident and reduce operational disruption.
This is where it can be useful to invest in cloud technology. Cloud technology can ensure that you have a copy of your data both on your own physical servers as well as elsewhere in the cloud.
4. Control and Manage Network Access
One common problem that small businesses face is that they don’t plan for keeping their system secure. In short, it is often the case that they are simply too trusting. No employer likes to think that they cannot trust their staff. However, it is unfortunately the case that data theft by employees is a growing problem.
It is important, then, to ensure you are putting the right safety measures in place. Employees need to have their own accounts. Further, each account must have access permissions that are determined by the requirements of employees’ respective roles.
5. Educate and Train Employees
What’s more, you need to ensure that you are providing your team with cyber security awareness training. Well-trained staff are one of the most important lines of defense against phishing attacks and other types of social engineering. Advise employees about the latest security protocols. Further, train them in some of the simple things, such as choosing a strong password.
Better Cyber Security Doesn’t Have to Be Difficult
The measures we have offered here might seem simple. However, they can make a huge difference to your business’s overall resistance to cyber attacks.