Internet penetration has helped businesses of all sizes to operate remotely from any location. Computer-based tools and software help in reaching a larger market and provide various opportunities to operate more efficiently. Consequently, cybersecurity has become a crucial part of the business.
The theft of digital data or information has surpassed physical theft, to become one of the most reported frauds. Hackers are frequently targeting small and mid-scale businesses, as a cyberattack on a large scale business would be much harder.
Business owners have to take cybersecurity seriously to maintain the confidence of businesses and consumers. Here is a list of top cybersecurity tips that can be easily implemented to protect and safeguard your business:
1. A robust firewall implementation
A firewall is a series of programs that provide a cybersecurity solution. It protects private network data from outsiders. It prevents unauthorised individuals from gaining access to the private business network and information.
You can use the free firewall software which is easily available online but it is always a great idea to invest in a next-generation firewall. If employees are working remotely, make sure to protect their systems as well.
2. Create strong password policies
All users of the business should set secure passwords that are strong enough for all systems. Passwords should be unique and include capitals, numbers, lower-case letters, and a special character.
It should be at least 9 to 10 digits long. Create your password policies for employees. It is recommended to use a password manager as you don’t need to remember all the passwords.
3. Awareness training
The workforce is an important asset to any business. They can be trained to be aware and protect the business. Provide your workforce with security awareness training on a regular basis. Cover the basics of cybersecurity such as handling sensitive data, safe internet use, password policies, device security, etc.
Invest in your workforce. It is important to avoid phishing attacks. Add phishing simulation exercises to evaluate the effectiveness of the awareness program.
4. Authentication process
There needs to be a multi-factor authentication process. It indicates the use of another method of authentication along with a strong password. This makes it difficult for the hacker to attack your system.
An additional factor to gain entry makes it easy to reset your login credentials. This can be an email or SMS to a mobile device. In this case, you do not have to rely solely on your login credentials for gaining access to the data.
5. Backup copies
If possible, have an automatic daily backup or at least on a weekly basis if it is a manual one. Critical data such as documents, spreadsheets, databases, or files need to be stored in copies either offsite or on a cloud-based platform.
In the case of a ransomware attack or any other disaster, you need to restore your crucial data. Backup should also be tested to determine its effectiveness. The 3-2-1 is a good backup technique. This indicates having three backup copies of your data on two media of different types along with one copy stored offsite, securely.
6. Firmware or software updates
Patches are used to correct the vulnerabilities that are usually seen in the software. It is essential to keep the software fully up to date. It is necessary to install the most updated firmware as well.
If possible, incorporate automatic updates in your system or design a schedule for updates if there has to be a manual process.
7. Segmented network
A standard practice for best results is using a segmented network. Split a network into a subnetwork to enhance security and performance. It restricts providing access among various segments. Each segment becomes independent and has its own criteria for providing access to the users.
An attacker will not be able to attack the whole system even if one segment is compromised. Limit access to admin credentials. Restrict access to sensitive data. The workforce should have limited information. They should be provided with the only information that they need to perform their daily duties.
8. Implementation of a spam filter
A single phishing email can be a threat to your data and network. Hackers use a phishing email to install malware or obtain your login credentials. This allows a hacker to bypass the security mechanism.
A good spam filter blocks non-malicious and phishing spam emails. They don’t get delivered to your inboxes. This acts as another defence perimeter.
9. Security of Wi-Fi networks
If you are using a Wi-Fi network at your workplace, ensure its security and data encryption aspects. Make sure it is hidden and does not broadcast its Service Set Identifier (SSID).
It is recommended to use WPA2 or WPA3, if possible, for encryption purposes. Password-protect to prevent any outsider’s access to your wireless router.
10. Implement a web filter
A web filter can enhance productivity by preventing the workforce from accessing websites that serve no work purpose. It will also safeguard the system from web-based attacks.
This is done by restricting users from visiting malware-hosting or phishing websites. A DNS based web filter is used to secure wireless or wired networks and even remotely working employees.
11. Implement best policies for payment cards
Separate payment programs from other programs that are less secure. Don’t use the same system to process payment and carrying out day to day operations.
Consult your banks and professionals to make sure that you use the most trusted tools and anti-fraud services. There may be other security obligations in relation to your banks or processor.
12. Employ an action plan for mobile devices
Mobile devices can make businesses face several security issues. Data encryption and installation of security apps is important to prevent any attack from hackers while the device is on public networks. Implement reporting practices for lost or stolen mobile devices.
You may have secured your software but your hardware can be stolen as well. If they provide access to the corporate network or hold any confidential data, it becomes essential to secure the devices with a password.
13. Virtual Private Networks (VPN)
Even firewalls and anti-virus protection alone are not enough to safeguard your crucial digital data. A virtual private network is an end to end solution for encryption of your business data and information that passes through it.
It encrypts the traffic on devices whether it is arriving or leaving. It also supports secure data sharing. Even if someone reaches the confidential data, they will only find encrypted or restricted data. It is an invaluable asset for small and mid-size businesses.
Summing it up
Setting up a small business comes with a lot of challenges. When it comes to cybersecurity, your weakest link becomes your weakness. Therefore, you need to invest in the best safeguarding software and digital safety education for the workforce.
Hackers and cybercriminals are finding new ways to carry out cyberattacks. However, some of their prominent methods for breaching security are known to all. Implementing the above-discussed tips would provide a security solution to your business to a great extent.
The use of VPNs, firewalls, web filters, spam filters are a few of them. Certain policies, processes, and practices play a vital part in cybersecurity measures too. They are password policies, authentication processes, and employee training practices. Backing up your data is also one of the most important practices in terms of security.
By adopting these measures, you are fairly securing your businesses. This eliminates or minimises the potential risk of attacks or hacks that your system, networks, or important data faces.
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