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Securing Your IT: 10 Must-Know Cyber Security Tips for Small Businesses

17 min read
cybersecurity tips

So you’ve started a small business. Congratulations!

Want to avoid having your business completely decimated in six months?

Then you need to take cyber security seriously because 60% of small businesses die within six months after a cyber attack.

Don’t become a statistic by making sure that you cover all of your small business security bases.

Keep on reading to learn the top 10 cyber security tips that will help you make your business into a miniature online Fort Knox.

1. The King of Cyber Security Tips: Antivirus Software

Sounds obvious, no?

Don’t underestimate the importance of having a strong and reliable antivirus program in place.

The combination of good antivirus software with an anti-malware program will basically be your system’s last line of defense if a hacker or a virus makes it through the first levels of your security network.

They work by scanning, detecting, and then removing any viruses or malware, adware, and spyware. In addition, they also keep an eye on your downloads and emails to make sure that nothing malicious made it through the cracks.

2. Strong Passwords

As with any locked system, you need a key to access it. And in order to ensure that this access is limited to approved personnel, you need to make that key pretty hard to copy or crack.

Your passwords or security questions are the keys to your system, so keep them complex yet not too complex that your own employees can’t use them regularly to access the system.

Using too complex passwords can cause your personnel to rely on sticky notes and other devices to keep track of your passwords, which is a whole different type of security blindspot.

However, there are a couple of straight forward ways to keep your passwords strong and impenetrable.

Consider having your security questions in a different language than the one your company operates in.

Another trick is using a space either before or after your password, which can through a hacker off, even if they found your passwords written down. And, of course, try your best to use a combination of upper and lower case letters.

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3. Firewall Protection

A firewall is called a firewall for a reason.

It’s meant to act as a hacker deterrent and is placed to protect your network traffic, both inbound and outbound.

Furthermore, it operates by blocking suspicious websites as well as restricting the movement of propriety data and confidential emails to your company’s network.

4. Encryption Software for the Win

Any sort of sensitive data like credit card information, social security numbers, and bank accounts, are beacons for hackers and other nefarious parties.

Simply put, the attacks won’t stop coming. So if the worst happens, and hackers make it through your system, having an encryption program in place can make or break your data security.

Encryption operates by keeping your data safe through transforming your information into indecipherable codes.

Consequently, even if the bad guys make it off with your data, they won’t be able to translate it into a readable form and decrypt your information.

5. Having a VPN in Place

Setting up a virtual private network (VPN) can save your system a lot of time and effort fighting malicious cyber attacks.

As VPNs automatically encrypt all traffic coming in and out of your devices, if someone was able to intercept your data on its way in and out of your system, they still would only get useless — to them — encrypted data.

6. Upgrade Your Wi-Fi Network Security

If you’re still using a WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy) network, then you need to switch to WPA2 (Wi-Fi Protected Access version 2) immediately.

The latter is way more secure than the first, and you can double your dose of security, by changing the name of your wireless access point/router, which is the Service Set Identifier (SSID).

Another way of turbo-boosting your security is by setting up a complex Pre-shared Key (PSK) passphrase.

7. Follow Email Security Best Practices

There are some common security best practices that are email-specific to counter the big online security vulnerability that is the whole emailing system.

So you’ll need to make it a habit to never open suspicious-looking emails. Even with legitimate-looking emails that appear to come from known senders, don’t open any links or attachments that seem frivolous or questionable.

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Employing active common sense can save you from the heartache and wallet bruising that comes with being a victim of a phishing scam.

Also, for extra security, change your email password once every month or three months to keep up with password hygiene.

8. Back-Up Your Back-Up

There is no such thing as having too many back-ups.

You’ll need to backup your data to either an external hard drive, your business server or the cloud — or a combination of all three — once every week.

To streamline the process, you can schedule automated backups, so that even if your system went under a blunt force attack, you’ll still have a safe copy of your data that you can access.

9. Limit Access to Important Data—Both Online and Offline

For your online system, keep the number of personnel with access to critical data to a minimum, like your company’s S-Suite and a handful of trusted personnel with a solid reason to have access to your data.

As for the offline side of things, make sure that there is an on-ground security protocol that prevents the access and usage of business devices by unauthorized individuals.

Hiring security is not a luxury option, but an essential function that will save you a lot of money, time and effort, that would be squandered in tracking down a stolen business laptop with sensitive information.

10. Invest in Your Employees’ Cyber Security Training

You can’t really ask your employees to keep your data safe, without really showing them how to do so.

Having a written cyber security policy is the first step, but you’ll have to ensure that there is some hands-on training to drive these points home and enable your employees to put them in practice.

In addition, always make sure to update these policies as cyber security best practices grow and evolve.

Your Business’ Cyber Security Is in Your Hands

So treat it well, or it will take your whole business down in a flurry of data breaches.

Now that you know the top 10 cyber security tips you’re in a much better place than you were before, but the learning never stops!

Check out our technology section to stay up-to-date with the latest on cyber security news and advice.

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