Many small businesses rely heavily on technology in order to conduct business and operate on a daily basis. From the internet, laptop computers and printers, to cloud storage and other Web-based applications, technology plays a huge role in helping small business owners.
It is therefore imperative that small businesses have provisions in place to protect their business from security risks that come with technology use. A 2019 report from Verizon found that 43% of cyberattacks were directed at small businesses, and according to Keeper Security (via CNBC), only 14% had the capacity to defend themselves.
The “2020 Cost of Insider Threats: Global” report shows that small organizations (those with fewer than 500 employees) spend an average of $7.68 million per incident. Hackers exploit smaller organizations because they know smaller companies have less resources allocated to IT security, thus making it easier and less risky to hack into their network. As such, small business owners cannot afford to take cybersecurity for granted. Here are some simple practices to make your business more cyber resilient.
1. Train Staff to Minimize the Risk of an Attack
Employee training at all levels is considered vital to keeping the company safe and protected. Employees must be trained to identify various cyber threats and attacks, and also know how to prevent them. Training should be comprehensive, covering key areas such as phishing, social engineering, clicking on questionable links, downloading unauthorized software, and other risky behavior that exposes the company to cybercrime. Employees are a small business’ greatest line of defense against cyber attacks. If an employee is not aware of or educated about a threat, they cannot recognize and stop it.
2. Install Antivirus and Anti-malware Software
There are many benefits to having antivirus and anti-malware software. The software can protect against a number of threats, such as viruses, ransomware, and malware. Antivirus software works by detecting and removing viruses and securing your data against different types of attacks. Some antivirus software even keeps private and personal information protected when you’re online. Both Microsoft and Google have security features you can use to protect data, such as firewalls, browser checkup, and file encryption. Other strong and secure antivirus software options include McAfee® Total Protection and Avast Business Antivirus Pro Plus.
3. Keep All Software Up-to-date
Cyberthreats are always evolving. General software updates are important to digital safety and cyber security because they add new security features to devices and remove outdated ones. Hackers can take advantage of vulnerability in applications that have not been updated by gaining unauthorized access to data, programs, and systems. Software updates typically include patches that protect your systems and programs against such vulnerabilities and hackers.
4. Get A Secure Virtual Private Network (VPN)
Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) can offer an additional layer of security and privacy. A VPN creates a private, encrypted network from a public internet connection to give you online privacy and anonymity. With a VPN, your traffic or online activity is encrypted, so it remains private as it travels. This means online actions are virtually untraceable. VPNs prevent unauthorized persons from eavesdropping on such traffic and allow the user to conduct work remotely. VPN technology is widely used in corporate environments and is great for users who work remotely or connect to unsecured networks. VPNs are also super affordable and an easy way to help your business become more secure.
The key to implementing a cybersecurity strategy to protect small businesses is to reduce the threat risk by minimizing the attack potential. It is important for a small business to actively prevent an attack for the company to succeed. Now more than ever, it’s important for small businesses owners to make security a priority in order to protect their businesses, employees, and customers.