Businesses must have a cybersecurity program in place to survive. As the volume and speed of digital transactions, cloud computing, and remote work initiatives increase, organisations need more effective cybersecurity.
Trends make IT networks and systems and the data they contain more susceptible to cybersecurity attacks that can cause financial losses and harm a company’s image. Malicious attackers are increasingly seeking to compromise internet-connected systems and web apps that aren’t adequately secured, primarily as more individuals work from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
For example, almost 60% of 520 security professionals polled by threat intelligence firm DomainTools in 2020 reported that their businesses had seen a moderate to a significant increase in attempted cyberattacks. Given these statistics, it’s no surprise that many companies are investing more in cybersecurity. Cybersecurity is a growing concern for many small business owners, and it’s no wonder why.
However, with the rise in online shopping and information sharing, data breaches are more common than ever. It’s essential to take proactive measures to protect your business data from theft or loss by cyberattacks. This blog post will explore the ultimate steps that you can take to maximise business cybersecurity!
What is cybersecurity?
At its core, cybersecurity is the practice of safeguarding IT networks, software, and data from attacks, penetrations, and other cyber threats. The most common security risks are external malicious attackers, but some cyberattacks originate from employees and other insiders who may maliciously or inadvertently create harm.
According to Verizon’s annual survey report on data breaches in organisations, internal actors were involved in 30% of the 3,950 incidents it discovered throughout 2019. Cybersecurity programs include a variety of procedures and tools for detecting, blocking, and deterring cyberattacks.
They’re generally handled by a cybersecurity department or team led by the CISO, CSO, or another top executive. However, security experts advise that everyone in an organisation is held accountable for information security.
That is why organisation-wide cybersecurity awareness and employee training are essential to effective initiatives, as stated in an article by tech writer Mekhala Roy on creating a cybersecurity culture in businesses.
The term data protection is a set of strategies and processes you can utilise to protect your business data’s privacy, accessibility, and integrity. It’s sometimes referred to as the protection of data and information.
Any small business enterprise that gathers, manages, or stores sensitive information must have a data protection strategy in place.
Any small business enterprise that gathers manages, or stores sensitive information must have a data protection strategy in place. A successful strategy plan can aid in the prevention of data loss, theft, or corruption and minimise the harm caused by a breach or emergency.
What Is data privacy and why is it important?
A data privacy standard is a set of rules that define how data should be collected or handled, depending on its sensitivity and significance. All sensitive information that organisations manage, including clients, stockholders, and employees, is vulnerable to data breaches, and the information is frequently valuable for business operations, progress, and finances.
Data privacy is the process of protecting sensitive information from malicious access by ensuring that only authorised team members have access to it. It prevents hackers from maliciously misusing data, ensuring that organisations comply with regulatory rules.
Why is cybersecurity important in business?
Deficiencies or flaws in cybersecurity protections can create a significant problem for businesses. Network intrusions and attacks can result in high-profile data breaches that access client information and other sensitive information.
A few prominent examples include a breach of Marriott International Inc. that exposed 500 million customers’ personal information, a 2017 Equifax data breach affecting 147 million people in the United States, and two massive breaches at Yahoo: one in 2014 involving 500 million user accounts and the other exposing 3 billion account holders when it occurred in 2013.
Aside from the potential loss of business resulting from negative publicity and damaged customer relationships, such breaches have a material financial cost. Other types of attacks that target businesses directly aim to get money from them.
Ransomware programs, for example, are malicious software that encrypts data files and then asks you to pay money to restore them. To induce businesses to pay a ransom, extortionists utilise several network assaults, including distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) assaults that take down websites. Overall, Verizon said that 86% of the confirmed 2019 cybersecurity attacks were financially motivated.
Top 9 cybersecurity guides to protect your business data
Hackers target a wide range of enterprises, from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies. According to a study done by the Better Business Bureau, 22% of small businesses have been attacked by malicious cybercriminals.
Personal information is the most common goal of cyber-attacks. It’s essential to defend your company from cyber threats, but many small business enterprise owners aren’t sure how. Putting cybersecurity fundamentals into action will help you keep your company safe from cyber threats.
To assist you in evaluating the effectiveness of your present business cybersecurity procedures, the following are the top 9 cybersecurity guides to walk your business data through the world of cyber threats.
Back up your data
Backups are one of the first best practices you should put in place. Many businesses already understand the importance of backing up their data, and many have technology in place to protect their internal system.
However, mobile devices are easy to overlook, and this gives rise to difficulties since many employees keep sensitive corporate data on laptops, tablets, and cellphones. Backing up data from all of your company’s computers is an excellent way to secure your business operations.
It’s critical to back up your most crucial data and information regularly. Backing up, on the other hand, isn’t necessarily costly or time-consuming. Multiple backup options are recommended to ensure the safekeeping of your valued data. A good backup solution generally entails the following:
Keep your data safe and recoverable by uploading it to a portable device and cloud storage regularly.
- end-of-week server back-ups
- quarterly server back-ups
- yearly server back-ups
Check and test whether you can recover your data from your backup regularly. Make it a practice to back up your data to an external drive or portable device, such as a USB flash drive. Keep mobile devices offsite for easy access, but keep them separate from the office site in case of a robbery or vandalism.
Do not leave the computer on after use since a cyber threat may compromise them. You may also back up your information by utilising a cloud storage service. Encryption is an excellent solution for data transmission and storage, and it features two-factor authentication for easy access.
Secure your devices and network
Ensure you’re up to date on your software
To profit from the masses of visitors, install automatic updating on your operating system and security software. Updates are likely to include critical security updates for contemporary viruses and threats.
The majority of updates may be scheduled after business hours or at a more convenient time. It’s essential not to disregard update warnings since they address critical security flaws.
Install antivirus security software
To defend your business’s computers and devices against infection, use security software on them. Check to be sure whether the program includes antivirus, anti-spyware, and anti-spam protection. Viruses and malware could infect your computers, laptops, and cell phones.
Set up a firewall
A firewall is a software tool between your computer and the internet, and it acts as the gateway for both incoming and outgoing traffic.
A firewall is security software that protects internal networks, but it must be updated regularly to function properly. Make sure you have the firewall installed on all of your portable business computers.
Turn on your spam filters
To prevent your business from getting bombarded with spam and phishing emails, use spam filters. Spam and phishing emails can infect your computer with viruses or malware, as well as steal your information.
The best thing to do if you get spam or phishing emails is to delete them. A spam filter can help you avoid opening a spam or phishing email by accident.
Encrypt sensitive information
Ensure any data you store or transmit online is also protected by encrypting it. Your files are encrypted before they’re sent over the internet, and it also eliminates the danger of theft, damage, or tampering. When using a public network, you can encrypt your connection through your router settings or by utilising a virtual private network (VPN) solution on your device.
Set up two factor authentication
Two-factor authentication (TFA) is a form of verification security requiring you to provide two or more forms of identification before accessing your account. A computer, for example, may need you to input a password and a code sent to your mobile device to access it.
This is a one-time password or a code that will most often be emailed to the user. Two-factor authentication adds an extra degree of security by requiring more than just a password.
For login, it is necessary to use more than one verification approach. Adding TFA to your account makes it more difficult for an unauthorised person to access your information.
Use passphrases rather than passwords to safeguard access to your computers and networks that store critical business information. Passphrases are passwords made up of a phrase or several different words. They’re easy for people to remember, but it’s tough for machines to break them down.
A secure passphrase should be:
- long – you can use passphrases that are at least 14 characters long, or five or more random words put together
- complex – ensure to input uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and some unique characters in your passphrase
- Unpredictable – while a single sentence serves as a good passphrase, having a group of unrelated words makes for a far stronger passphrase.
- unique – avoid using the same passphrase for all of your business accounts
Using a password manager that safely stores and generates passphrases for you is a good idea.
If you use the same passphrase for all of your accounts and someone obtains access to it, they might be able to access them all. Using a password manager that safely stores and generates passphrases for you is a good idea. A password manager is a piece of program software that keeps track of all of your passwords.
You only need one “master key” password to access these passwords. You won’t have to worry about remembering each of your passwords if you use a password manager. It will also prevent you from writing passwords down (which you should never do!).
Monitor use of computer equipment and systems
Keep track of all the computers your company uses. Check to see whether they are securely fastened to avoid unauthorised access. Remind your workers to be careful about the following:
- where and how they keep company computers
- the networks they connect their computer devices to, like Wi-Fi
- using USB or portable hard drives – unknown viruses or things related to cyber-attacks could be accidentally transferred on them from home to your business
When you’re done with something, dispose of it responsibly. Make sure there isn’t any vital information on anything you put out. Suppose outdated software or equipment is still hanging around in your company network.
In that case, it’s doubtful they’ll be updated, and they might be a backdoor that cybercriminals use to attack your company. Unauthorised access to the system by former staff is a frequent security problem for organisations. Remove access for anybody who no longer works for you or transition jobs and no longer needs it.
Be Aware of Phishing Schemes
Phishing emails are fraudulent emails that attackers may use to access your business data, gain control of your computer or network, or steal your password and corporate access information.
Phishing emails frequently appear to come from a known source, such as a credit card company or another vendor, and they’re often accompanied by links or attachments that you’re urged to download. You should send suspicious emails to the delete button without reading them.
Check the below criteria before clicking on any links or opening any emails:
- confirm that it comes from someone you trust
- confirm that it comes from someone who has sent you something related before
- Be sure it is something you were expecting
- Be sure it does not look suspicious, with unusual spelling or characters
Educate your employees to be safe online
Your employees may be the first and most important line of defense against cyberattacks. It’s critical to inform your employees about the dangers they may face and how their work contributes to ensuring your company is secure.
It’s essential to educate them about:
- how to maintain good passwords and passphrases
- how to secure small business data and avoid cyberattacks
- how to handle cyberattacks and things related to cyberthreats when they encounter them
- how to report a cyber attack
When you’re creating your data security policy, another thing to consider is Wi-Fi. People frequently don’t think twice about connecting to open Wi-Fi networks. People take public networks for granted and value their abundance, whether at a coffee shop or an airport.
However, public Wi-Fi has several risks. A device linked to an open wireless network might be a gateway for malware into your company. So, train your employees on which Wi-Fi networks are acceptable to connect to.
Ensure that their devices aren’t linked to open networks automatically. This sort of training is an important part of data security and keeping your system safe.
Protect your customers
You must safeguard your client’s information at all costs. If their data is lost or compromised, it will harm your company’s image, and you may be held legally accountable. However, you must ensure that:
- It is important that your clients have a safe and secure online environment for business transactions
- It is essential to secure your clients’ data
- Find out what your payment gateway provider can do to prevent internet payment fraud if you take payments online
Giving your business data maximum protection
Many small businesses have been destroyed due to preventable security issues. You can’t eliminate data breaches or cyberattacks. But by following appropriate security procedures, you may reduce the likelihood of one and minimise the damage if something goes wrong.