10 Cybersecurity Tips for Small Business

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With how far technology is moving forward every day, it shouldn’t be a surprise that in 2023, your data will be vulnerable if you’re not taking extreme steps to protect it. Take any small business, for example, and you’ll see data protection measures being taken after a serious breach has occurred. That’s a little too late.

But hey, we’re not just here to keep you up at night. Instead, we’ll talk about the ten essential cybersecurity tips that small businesses NEED to follow today.

Let’s dive in!

1. Training to Prepare Against Employee Negligence

We found it stunning that according to a report compiled by CNBC, more than a whopping 47% of businesses they talked to give employee negligence as the cause for their data breaches. This could be as simple as losing a company phone or iPad or a more worrying case like not locking access to company networkers.

Additionally, reducing the number of vulnerabilities (in this case, the number of devices, networks, and so on) is impossible without scaling your operations down, your only option is training your employees (existing ones and new hires) against negligence.

2. Regular Software Updates

Most of us are used to self-updating Windows computers, which is not bad. Software updates almost always come up with security updates, and you can never have too many.

Some software, however, doesn’t update for itself, such as the Wi-Fi firmware you’re using.

If you forget to have an IT professional update your Wi-Fi firmware (and keep in mind that’s just ONE of the different software that doesn’t self-update, along with printers and scanners), the network – and every device connected to it – remains vulnerable to security breaches!

3. Strong Passwords and 2FA

Today, it’s hard to understate the importance of having a strong password (and having your 2FA enabled). According to ExpressVPN’s research on passwords, many brute force data breaches – where software tries every combination possible – are successful because business owners have weak passwords that a four-year-old could figure out.

We get your son’s birthday might be easily memorable, but it’s also one of the more easily-available types of information available to the public.

So even if you’re using a short password, get special characters in there to make it stronger – or use a password generator to create a virtually unbreakable password.

4. Risk Assessments: You Need Them

Risk assessments are incredibly important for any business. Being eco-friendly isn’t the only thing customers expect of you now; when you’re handling their data, they also expect you to keep it locked up and safe.

With that said, risk assessments aren’t as complex as some people will make you believe. You can contract freelance cybersecurity professionals to perform a rudimentary evaluation of your data vulnerability, and it’s generally very helpful most of the time.

This could be anything from ensuring that 2FA is enabled on all accounts to ensuring that employees aren’t sharing passwords or leaving USB sticks lying around.

5. Backing Up Your Files

It seems old-fashioned in the heyday of Google Drive and Microsoft Azure, but backing up your files is an excellent idea for businesses that want to cover the whole nine yards of cybersecurity.

The best part is that this doesn’t just help with data loss. It also removes your dependency on cloud-based services that aren’t as secure as they claim to be and ensures your data isn’t a sitting duck out there in the open.

6. Using a VPN

VPN stands for “Virtual Private Network,” These aren’t just good for switching your Netflix region to one with the newest episode of Grey’s Anatomy.

A great way to fix security issues created by employees who travel is to have them use a VPN to access the company network or encrypted servers, which helps because VPNs encrypt their data!

7. Securing Wi-Fi Networks

Like your firm’s physical devices and USB sticks, your Wi-Fi networks must be secure from hackers.

They’re even more of a priority because right now, people can access an unsecured Wi-Fi network with a weak password using free apps from the Play Store.

Seriously, it’s as easy as that.

If you don’t want that happening, you’ll want to set up multiple layers of security on your Wi-Fi networks. Tips from an actual cybersecurity professional who’ll do the job on-site are best, but until then, a great password (randomly generated if you want to cover your bases) and WPA2 will do just fine.

8. Using an Antivirus

A piece of particularly shocking news is that many small businesses don’t use a paid antivirus, stating it to be an unnecessary expense and instead depend on the default Windows Defender.

We’re not throwing shade at one of the best in-built antivirus programs in the world right now, but you need to use a paid antivirus program to ensure your data’s safe!

The program should perform regular security checks automatically, as well as scan files that are uploaded to company devices and networks, and provide online browsing security too.

9. Limiting Physical Access to Devices

You want to make sure your employees feel like they’re trusted. We get it. But you also don’t want unauthorized people accessing computers because that’s one of the easiest ways to put your data at risk.

We recommend limiting physical access to computer devices and USB sticks while your workforce isn’t that big. To protect against theft, you could also add a tracker to your devices so you can recover them if they’re stolen.

10. Using Best Practices for Payment Cards

A lot of small businesses rely on card processors and banks to protect against cyber fraud, and that leads to unhealthy dependencies.

In simpler words, if your bank/payment processor messes up, you’re left to deal with it.

That means you’ll want to use the best practices for handling payment cards, such as physically handling them with care, checking for noticeable marks of expired/fraudulent cards, and having your wireless network (over which the transaction is processed) set to WPA3, the most robust encryption.

The Takeaway

Our strongest recommendation, though, is to take the time to educate yourself about cybersecurity. It’s a wide, wide field, and there’s new stuff coming up out of the blue, meaning the only real way to protect yourself against the latest threats is to know about them in advance!

And psst: if you’re already doing the best you can, don’t lose any sleep over it!

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