The internet offers numerous benefits when running a business. Businesses of all sizes and locations can now reach new and broader markets. The internet also allows businesses to work more efficiently by employing computer-based tools.
However, theft of digital data has now become a commonly reported fraud and businesses need to find ways to curb it, especially through developing a culture of security. That’s why if a business is considering adopting cloud computing, developing a website, or doing any other technology-related task, cybersecurity should be a top priority.
Here’s a guide to internet security for small businesses.
Best Internet Security Practices for Small Businesses
1. Analyze Potential Security Risks
Check out potential risks that might compromise the security of your business networks, systems, and data. Knowing, understanding, and analyzing potential threats can help you come up with a plan to handle any gaps in security.
One thing you need to do when perfuming risk assessment is checking how your business data is stored and who has access to the data. Check who might want to access the data and how they may try to obtain it. Analyze the risk levels, possible events that can happen, and how breaches can impact the business.
Once you're done with the analysis and have identified the threats, use the result to improve or refine your security systems. Review and revise the security plan at regular intervals as well as make sure that you impose significant changes to your data storage and usage. This helps you offer more robust protection for your data and information.
2. Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN)
Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) are well-known for offering users an additional layer of security while browsing the internet.
Small businesses should also employ VPNs to help secure their internal networks and ensure that only authorized personnel can access them. A VPN encrypts all the traffic leaving and coming to your devices. If a cybercriminal manages to intercept the data, all he will have access to will be encrypted data.
When employees are working remotely, the odds of a cyber attack become higher. A VPN can help remote employees build a layer of security they otherwise might not have. It will keep sensitive information private for remote workers who depend on public Wi-Fi hotspots.
3. Regularly Back Up Your Files
Does your business back up its files? In case a cyber attack occurs, crucial data could be lost or compromised. But would your business still function in the event of such an occurrence? Considering the amount of data stored in your business computers, laptops, and smartphones, would the business be able to run after a data breach?
To be on the safe side, have a backup plan in place to automatically save copies of your data. Opt for a program that can restore all of your files from the backup. Use a program that offers you the ability to schedule or automate the backup procedure so you don’t have to manually do it. It’s also highly recommended that you store copies of the backup in offline storage so that they don't get encrypted or inaccessible in the event of a ransomware attack.
4. Have Anti-Malware Software Installed
Installing anti-malware software is a great way to protect your business against phishing attacks. Many small business owners assume that employees know to never click on a phishing link or open a phishing email.
However, a report by Verizon found that up to 30 percent of employees in the US opened phishing emails in 2016, which was a 7 percent rise from the previous year.
Since a phishing attempt involves installing malware into your employee's devices when the phishing link is clicked, it is vital to have an anti-malware software in place on the network and its connected devices.
5. Ensure Safe Password Practices
Employees tend to find changing passwords somehow overwhelming. The Verizon 2016 data investigation also found out that up to 63 percent of data breaches occurred as a result of lost, stolen or weak passwords.
Moreover, the Keeper Security and Ponemon Institute reported that 65 percent of businesses with passwords policies don’t enforce them. In today's internet world, all employee devices must access the business network to be password protected.
Employees with access to financial or personal information should have separate accounts for sensitive and more general business data. Ensure your employees change passwords regularly, especially containing a mix of alpha and numeric characters that don’t resemble words in an aim to ensure time-limited exposure to password theft.
6. Update Software
A business owner should ensure that both software updates and antivirus programs are up-to-date. Malware is constantly advancing to take advantage of any vulnerability in your software. Fortunately, patches and fixes that handle these weaknesses are also evolving. However, these patches and fixes will be useless if you don't update your software.
Almost all of the internet security solutions mentioned above around are highly scalable and will adapt to changes that come along with new technology. Without any doubt, security needs will change as a business grows. But following comprehensive measures before your business infrastructure becomes too large to be effectively managed will play a big part in the long run.