Just because you are running a small business doesn’t mean you are out of the reach of cybercriminals and hackers. In fact, small businesses are more susceptible to security breaches and cyberattacks because most often they dont expect the attack, thus are unprepared to handle the situation. Back in 2018, almost two-thirds of the small businesses suffered from cyber security attacks.
Another misconception among small business owners is that you only require cyber security if your business is online. All businesses online and brick-and-mortar must have a cyber security plan in place because it is crucial for keeping your user data including passwords, and credit card numbers, secure and protected.
Protecting your data is very simple. At the very basic, small businesses can ensure that all their employees access the web with the help of a Virtual Private Network. With a VPN like Surfshark to encrypt your online traffic and keep it protected against any security breach, your valuable data isn’t going to get compromised easily anytime soon. Before you get Surfshark though, make sure to read it’s in-depth Surfshark review online for more details.
Ways to Protect Your Small Business from Cyber Attacks
If you do not take appropriate precautions and security measures, your small business will become an easy target for hackers. A successful cyber attack can cost you around $3 million! Here are some of the ways to protect your small business from cyber attacks.
1. Upgrade your IT set up
When it comes to protecting your small business from cyber attacks, the first and foremost thing is to upgrade your network security and IT infrastructure to the latest standards. Most small business owners consider IP infrastructure as a one-time expense and dont bother replacing it with new technology. Modern technology comes with improved network security offering higher protection.
Therefore, make sure to set up the latest network routers and firewall protocols across all IT equipment to strengthen your security and create a defense against hackers and security breaches. You can lease the equipment or opt for third-party financing to protect your business without going bankrupt.
2. Build a cyber security plan
In this age of technology and digitalization, a cyber security plan is not an option anymore but a necessity. However, the reality is that more than 73% of the small businesses don’t have a formal cyber security plan in place to guard against security breaches. A cyber security plan includes the best security practices and protocols for protection.
Some key points in a cyber security plan that you must consider are as follows:
- Strong passwords
- Two-factor authentication
- Anti-virus and anti-malware
- Monitoring system
These are some of the important factors of a cyber security plan. However, for an effective approach, make sure to include protective measures against both digital and physical threats like employee errors and omissions.
3. Ensure Network Security
One of the most common mistakes made by small businesses is that they adopt all new IT equipment and computers but leave their internet and Wi-Fi susceptible to external threats. For basic network security, make sure to regularly update the information to protect it from hackers. Here are some tips to ensure a secure small business network:
- Keep a strong Wi-Fi network password that only your employees know. If you have customers who have to use Wi-Fi at your place, make sure to create a separate network for customers and limit the duration of each session.
- Install hardware firewalls for the maximum level of network security.
- Make sure all devices and computers at your office have installed anti-virus, and anti-spyware as these are connected to the network, offering a gateway to hackers. Make sure to have these installed on your personal computers, too, if your employees are working remotely.
4. Use a VPN
Use a VPN to protect your online security and privacy. In fact, over 25% of small businesses are using a VPN to access the internet. Popular VPN services like Surfshark, ExpressVPN, and NordVPN come with a 256-bit AES encryption protocol that protects your online traffic from cybersecurity attacks.
Most external hacking takes place during information transfer over an internet connection. With a VPN in place, all your internet traffic passes through the VPN tunnel that encrypts your online traffic – acting as a barrier for hackers who try to attempt stealing your information. With a VPN, your employees can also connect to public Wi-Fi without worrying about hackers stealing your passwords and sensitive information like credit card details, files, etc.
5. Backup data on Cloud
Even if you take all the protective measures, you don’t want to be left without any backup or options in case of a cyber attack. Small businesses should have a contingency plan in place in the form of cloud backup. Having all the data stored in the cloud allows businesses to access it from anywhere in case of a shutdown or security breach. This way, you can ensure that no data is lost under any circumstances.
Cloud storage solutions are scalable and have the highest standards of data security and encryption protocols. Therefore, instead of storing data on hardware, opt for the cloud as it is not susceptible to cyber attacks.
6. Train your employees
New technology and IT infrastructure is nothing if your employees are not aware of how to protect against cyber attacks. There are different kinds of cyber attacks that are faced by small businesses, including malware, phishing, SQL injection, DNS tunneling, and more. In fact, Phishing alone accounts for 90% of small business cyber attacks.Therefore if your employees are not trained, they will fail to distinguish between phishing and authentic communication.
The most common phishing technique is using emails to get information, and it is becoming harder and harder to identify. Therefore, it is highly essential for small business owners to regularly train their employees with the latest privacy trends and security measures.
With advancements in the internet, cyber security is posing a major threat to businesses of all sizes, small to large organizations. However, most small businesses think they are safe from cybercrime. This is one of the main reasons why more than half of the small companies go out of business within six months after experiencing a cyber security attack. Therefore, one can never be too safe from a cyber attack, but the above-mentioned ways can help you safeguard your business from external threats.