For small business owners, it is crucial to remain vigilant when it comes to cybersecurity. According to Small Business Trends, more than 40 percent of cyber attacks target small businesses. Unfortunately, most of these companies aren’t adequately prepared to defend against a hack. A mere one in seven feels they have an effective strategy in place to handle an attack of this nature. Given this, it’s no surprise that 60 percent of small companies can’t stay afloat in the months following a security breach.
Fortunately, there are a number of simple strategies you can use to help protect your small business from a data hack. Here are a few cybersecurity tips that can help your company avoid becoming another breach-related statistic.
When going paperless, use a secure cloud
In today’s technology-driven age, many small businesses have adopted a paperless culture. This includes scanning and digitizing paper documents, opting for digital invoicing and billing, ditching paper records and implementing the use of tablets and laptops during meetings, among other things. This is an effective strategy to cut down on costly supplies, support the environment and reduce clutter, but it’s extremely important to protect your digital filing system using a trusted cloud provider.
A secure cloud enables small businesses to remain compliant with data protection regulations and allows secure remote access for telecommuting employees. It also provides administrators with control over user permissions for easy management of sensitive data on both personal and company-owned devices. If your company’s files are only backed up to a physical hard drive, they are more vulnerable to cyber attacks including phishing emails, malware or a virus.
Offer cybersecurity education for employees
Ensure your company has effective cybersecurity training in place. This should include tips on how to spot suspicious websites and common email hacking methods. Teach employees data protection tactics they can utilize both at home and at work – your team is more likely to adopt strong cybersecurity practices if doing so benefits them personally, as well as professionally. Unfortunately, insider threats make up over 70 percent of security incidents, but most are accidental and simply a result of employee human error.
Poor communication and a lack of reporting tend to further complicate the issue. Take the pressure off of employees by adopting a formal cybersecurity protocol. Employees should feel safe and respected when reporting any potential data exposure. This will help assure your team is more likely to report a human error-related breach, and that security vulnerabilities don’t go unnoticed.
Tighten up your password policy
Do your research to ensure both you and your employees are well-informed on password best practices. Using a strong password may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how often a weak one becomes the downfall of both individuals and businesses. In fact, poor password security is one of the most common causes of a breach. Allowing yourself or your team to use weak passwords turns your business into a painfully easy target for hackers.
The best passwords are at least 12 characters long, featuring different special characters, numbers and letters in both upper and lower case. Passwords should also be changed at least quarterly. Try adding a recurring reminder on your company’s shared calendar to help remind your entire team when passwords should be updated. Password managers, software that helps users maintain strong, unique passwords, are an alternative option. While the security of such apps is often debated by cybersecurity experts, they are capable of protecting sensitive information much more efficiently than a weak password used across several platforms within your business.
The SmallBizRising Blog is designed to be an educational content hub pulling information, best practices and practical advice for the small business owner and features topics including accounting, marketing, technology and more. Be sure to subscribe to stay up to date with new content as it is posted. The blog was created by The Neat Company and receives contributed content from a group of contributing companies that provide technology, services and solutions to small businesses.