11 Ways Small Businesses Can Protect Their Data
The shocking revelations of massive data breaches at companies like Equifax and Target have left small businesses feeling vulnerable.
Without cybersecurity insurance, small businesses, with mostly limited budgets and lack of IT staff, are especially susceptible to cyberattacks.
However, this needn’t be a cause for concern. In fact, you can use these cyber incidents as an opportunity to reevaluate your company’s data security practices and shore up any gaps before hackers take notice of your business.
Here are some ways you can protect your small business from cyber threats.
#1 – Changing Your Passwords Regularly
Passwords are the first line of defense against cyberattacks. If a hacker gains access to your login information, they can wreak havoc on your systems, steal data, and damage your company’s reputation in a number of ways, like distributing false information.
If you use the same password for multiple logins, the information behind that login information becomes especially vulnerable.
To protect yourself, you should use a different, strong password for each login and change your passwords often. You can do this using a password manager, which creates a strong password and then stores it in an encrypted database.
#2 – Installing Firewalls
A firewall is a security system that monitors and controls incoming and outgoing traffic from a network. Firewalls are especially useful in protecting your business from cyber attacks. You can install firewalls on individual computers or network devices.
When choosing a firewall, make sure it’s compatible with your hardware so it doesn’t cause any issues, and make sure it protects you from different types of cyber attacks, malware, and hackers.
#3 – Encrypting Your Data
If you store large quantities of sensitive data, you should consider encrypting it. This ensures that only the people with the correct decryption key can access that data.
If a hacker gets ahold of the encrypted data without the decryption key, it is useless to them.
#4 – Investing in Cybersecurity Insurance
As the frequency and severity of cyber attacks continue to rise, so does the price of insurance for these attacks. However, it is much less expensive to invest in a cybersecurity insurance plan than to pay the costs that come with a security breach.
You can use it to receive compensation for the costs of repairing or replacing damaged property and data, hiring third-party experts to investigate the breach, and repaying customers whose information was stolen.
#5 – Implementing Advanced Surveillance Techniques
Not all cyber attacks come from outside your network. Sometimes, a trusted employee uses their login credentials to commit fraud.
You can minimize the damage of internal fraud by installing advanced monitoring and surveillance equipment.
These systems can detect abnormal activity such as logins from unusual devices, large amounts of data being sent to unknown destinations, and more.
You can use these systems to remotely monitor employee activity and catch fraud before it has the chance to do significant damage to your company.
#6 – Backing-Up Your Data Regularly
When something like a server breach occurs, you’ll want to have a backup plan in place so you don’t lose any important data.
One way to do this is to use cloud storage. With cloud storage, your data is backed up remotely, so it is protected even if something happens to your internal network.
#7 – Educating Your Employees and Training Them in Cyber Security
You can’t rely on technology alone to defend your business against cyberattacks. You also need a team of well-informed employees who know how to identify and report malicious activity.
A simple 15-minute training session will help your employees identify and report potential threats.
#8 – Using Multi-Factor Authentication for All Employee Logins
More websites today are using multi-factor authentication (MFA) to protect their users. It works by requiring users to enter a one-time login code sent to their phone or alternative email address along with their username and password. This makes it difficult for hackers to log in to your accounts with just your login information, as they usually don’t have access to whichever device or account your code is sent to.
MFA is especially important for people in high-level positions that have access to sensitive information: This access makes such high-level employees more valuable targets to hackers.
#9 – Limiting Employee Access to Data
Not all company data is created equal. Some data is more sensitive than others. This includes things like social security numbers, credit card numbers, and health records.
If you have employees who need access to any of this information, you should keep it in a separate location from other data. This way, only those who absolutely need to can access it.
#10 – Keeping Your Antivirus Software Up to Date
Antivirus software is one of the most important tools in your cybersecurity arsenal. Antivirus software monitors your devices as well as your internet browsing activity to both anticipate and prevent threats.
You need to keep your antivirus software up to date at all times. If you don’t, you may not be able to identify or remove new viruses or malware that hackers use in cyber attacks or data breaches.
#11 – Saving Your Data in Multiple Locations
If you have a small business, there’s a good chance you don’t have a lot of data storage space.
This means that if a hacker breaks into your servers and steals your data, you may end up losing a lot more than initially anticipated. To protect against this, you should save your data in multiple locations.
You can use the cloud, but you should also use external hard drives and offline storage drives.
Invest the Time and Resources to Prevent Cybersecurity Attacks
A data breach is one of the worst things that can happen to a business. Protecting your data from cyber threats is key to keeping your business safe, and you can do this by changing your passwords, installing firewalls, encrypting your data, and investing in cybersecurity insurance.
Even if you don’t have a cyber insurance policy, you can still take advantage of some best practices to keep your business safe.
You can limit the amount of sensitive data you have on hand, set up two-factor authentication for all employees, and back up your data regularly to minimize the damage of a cyber attack.
But ultimately, investing in the right policy will be the best long-term move, especially for a small business.