Since the advent of internet, businesses of all sorts of nature, size, and locations have explored new and larger markets to capture. The internet provided new opportunities where aspiring entrepreneurs work competently, efficiently, and effectively with computerized tools. With the advancement of the internet and technology, there are tips and tricks that can help you keep your business safe.
In such a susceptible business environment, cybersecurity should be an active part in any business plan to ensure its safety. Every business which uses the internet must create a secure online environment to gain consumer trust, goodwill, and confidence.
More than 50% of ransomware attacks target small to medium-sized businesses. Protect you and your company with these 10 cybersecurity tips.
1. Know the Threats
Our first cybersecurity tip is to keep yourself informed. Knowing the threats will help you decide on what cybersecurity solution works best for you and your company. Furthermore, stay updated on how these cyberattacks occur. After all, like most other businesses based off innovation, cyberattacks are also evolving over time. Below are a few of the most common, but still deadly, cybersecurity threats.
Malware, also known as malicious software, is a software intentionally designed to harm a computer network, the computer itself, the server, or the client. There are many different types of malware. A few of these include viruses, ransomware, and phishing.
- Viruses: Like the viruses that infect the human body, viruses in cybersecurity are like contagious diseases. They reproduce and spread from one computer or device to another until it gains access to your business’ entire network. Viruses also damages the target computer or device by corrupting data, reformatting the hard disk, or even shutting down the entire system.
- Ransomware: Hackers use ransomware to take your network hostage and later demand to be paid a ransom to fix or remove the malware. Ransomware can enter the organization through phishing emails or vulnerable software – often through unprotected software. This type of malware can completely shut down a company’s operations, thus causing the organization to experience heavy loss. However, paying for the ransom will not reverse the damage already caused by the ransomware, so how can you justify paying the ransom to get operations running again?
- Phishing: As mentioned earlier, phishing is one of the methods hackers use to implement different types of malware. Phishing in particular takes place with the use of an email or malicious website. Its aim is to gain information through the device it is opened in. Oftentimes, these emails appear to be highly important or from an authorized organization. These emails will have links attached containing suspicious code, which will cause your computer or device to be infected by some type of malware such as viruses or ransomware.
Overall, take caution when opening links from unidentified sources. Carelessness or ignorance of these threats often cause the downfall or an organization.
2. Assess Your Business’ Cyberattack Risk
Knowing your business systems’ vulnerabilities will help effectively assess and improve your cyber security. With this tip, you can identify potential risks to your business. This will allow you to develop an effective plan that will counter the attacks. Conduct a security risk assessment of your security program in areas such as people, processes, and technology to identify security gaps. While you cannot avoid all cyber risk, you can identify, mitigate, and reduce it to an acceptable level. Developing a plan of action and providing training for employees is crucial to protect your business’ data and information.
There are many different types of tools that can be used to evaluate your business’ vulnerabilities related to the asset and network.
- Planning and Assessment Tools: These security assessment tools can find individual vulnerabilities throughout your network. Most assessment tools will also include a priority list and a general idea on how to prevent these threats from majorly affecting your organization.
- Wireshark: Wireshark is a free, open-source packet analyzer used for network troubleshooting and debugging. This packet analyzer provides a deep inspection of protocols and gives both live and offline analysis of your network.
- Nmap (“Network Mapper”): Nmap is an open-source network scanning software. It is a licensed tool for performing network discovery and auditing your network security. Nmap is also used for inventory management for your network, managing service upgrade schedules, and monitoring the system host. This software scans your entire network to determine how safe your business network is on the Internet.
- Nessus: Nessus is a scanner that depicts the vulnerabilities of your network. It has a simple policy creation which only requires you to click a few buttons to scan your entire organization. Nessus’ advanced detection means more protection for your network, ensuring your data and information will remain secure.
3. Train Your Employees
Many cybersecurity breaches are the result of employees’ carelessness or ignorance of safe cybersecurity practices. As mentioned earlier, phishing is a type of malware that hackers use to infiltrate an organization. This is sent to employee email addresses, so employees must learn how to identify and block phishing emails.
Of course, there are other cybersecurity practices that can be taught to your employees. The following topics are a few other topics that will help protect your organizations from insider threats.
- How to identify a phishing email
- Various browsing tactics
- Avoid suspicious fishy downloads
- How to create strong password
- How to protect customer and vendor information
You can also increase awareness through these training programs by teaching about cyber crime and cyber security. Post reminders on the importance of security and continue educating your employees by giving information on topics related to cybersecurity with various materials such as brochures or posters. Remember to always keep this information relevant to your organization.
For example, protecting the information of your clients and customers. Keeping confidential company information safe and away from competitors. These are just a few of the ideas to really push forward to importance of cybersecurity in your company.
4. Cyber Hygiene
Cyber hygiene is the practices and steps used to maintain system health and improve online security. This includes using antivirus software which must be updated on a regular basis. Updating security software is crucial to ensure your company’s security will be able to continually protect your network. You can purchase antivirus software through various licensed vendors who regularly update their software.
Having good cyber hygiene is important because it ensures your organization’s network is protected from cyber threats. A bad example of cyber hygiene is Equifax’s ineffective and missing security control – where Equifax forgot to renew their public key certificate. As a result of not updating their public key certificate, Equifax experienced a data breach where cyber attackers stole thousands of customer information.
Practicing good cyber hygiene will prevent financial loss and ensure your company will maintain consumer trust. As such, cyber hygiene must be maintained to protect your organization’s operations.
5. Secure Your Network
Securing your network will protect your devices from being hacked through the internet. By securing your network, you will prevent most outside people from accessing your Wi-Fi and thus further protect your network connection. Here are a few steps you can take to ensure your network is secure:
- Hide your Wi-Fi network from common people. You can do this by setting up your router to hide the network name.
- Ensure your network has a strong password in place.
- Activate encryption on your network.
- Use a firewall to safeguard your internet connection.
- Turn off guest networks.
- Update your router’s hardware.
Using these steps to secure your network will lower the online threats to your business system. Having a solid network security reduces the risk of data loss, theft, and sabotage. This will protect your business from unnecessary financial loss.
6. Use Strong Passwords
A strong password is a competent way to protect your data, information, and system from any potential harm. Passwords are a preventative control used for pretty much every type of account. However, oftentimes, people have simple passwords that are easily cracked – especially when an organization does not have a set guideline on what to include in a password.
The ideal strong password should have the following:
- Ten or more characters
- One or more upper case letters
- One or more lower case letters
- One or more numbers
- One or more special characters
Additionally, always make sure you have different passwords for different accounts. While having so multiple long passwords might get confusing, you can use a password manager to help keep track of all your accounts. You can also remember your passwords with mnemonics while replacing letters with special characters or numbers.
7. Authenticate of Your Information
Multifactor Authentication (MFA) is another preventative control that is used to protect your account and systems. MFA requires you to give more information prior to logging in. Vendors who deal with more sensitive information should have this feature on the account. Many different types of corporations already utilize MFA such as bank corporations, e-commerce stores, and government organizations.
Requiring to authenticate your information prior to logging in protects sensitive data and backs up the sensitive information. This ensures the company’s information will remain safe, and it will also protect clients’ information from hackers trying to steal sensitive data. MFA puts another step in place to access your account which makes it harder for aver cyber criminals from stealing your information.
8. Backup Your Data
Regularly backup your system’s data – especially the essential and sensitive data. The backup can be complete either off site or on the cloud. The backup includes word documents, databases, and various files (financial, human resource, payables and receivables, etc.). Furthermore, it will enhance the organization of your documents and files, which will thus help you save time when you are searching for a certain file.
Additionally, having backup data will allow you to have your documents and files saved elsewhere, which will help you recover any lost files. Lost files might be the result of accidentally deleting your files, cleaning out your active system to protect it from infiltrations, or because of natural disasters such as floods or tornadoes. This will ensure you have all the information needed to continue your business’ operations.
9. Secure Your Payment Methods
Collaborate with your bank or other card processing software to ensure that highly trusted tools are used to prevent fraud of any sort. This will help protect your company’s from losing money or getting infiltrated by cyber criminals. To ensure the safety of your organization’s money, make sure to check with your bank because each bank has different security protocols that help keep payments secure.
Additionally, keep the systems used to make payments different from the system used to browse the internet to avoid catching viruses or any other type of malware. Using the same system for payments and internet browsing will make monetary transactions susceptible to cyber threats. Therefore, find and use secure payment methods to protect both you and your clients’ money from cyber criminals.
10. Control Physical Access to Your System
Systems used for business purposes need to have controls that will prevent unauthorized access. For example, passwords and physical locks on laptops will prevent people from accessing your physical devices. Within the device, restrict the right to access and make changes in the program to the IT team or any other relevant teams. Have different individuals review and approve adjustments to the system to prevent unauthorized changes.
Set up security protocols and requirements to ensure all changes made in the system were authorized and correct. This keeps your organization safe from unexpected cyberattacks that infiltrate through inside, work devices.
Cybersecurity is crucial for any level of business. Cyberhackers target all types of organizations – especially small businesses because small businesses often do not have security protocols in place to protect their system. Therefore, you should implement these ten cybersecurity tips to keep your small business safe from cyber criminals. Practicing these tips and tricks will help prevent or minimize the impact of a data breach or infiltration. Protect your organization now with these ten cybersecurity tips and learn more about other cybersecurity threats you might not be aware of.
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