The average American spends a big chunk of time, 24 hours a week to be exact, online. Whether checking an email, updating social media, shopping online, searching on Google, or anything in between, we access the internet all the time- and more often than not, we go online without asking ourselves one important question: Is my network secure?
Information Security for Small Businesses
Information security is of the utmost importance in the business world, but especially so for small businesses.
Recent reports have shown that each time a small business is successfully cyberattacked, business owners are on the hook for $200,000 on average. That’s more than enough to cripple most businesses beyond repair.
In fact, 40% of all cyberattacks are perpetrated against small businesses – and only a small portion of them are prepared for it.
As a small business owner, there are a number of steps that you can – and should – take to lay out an information security policy and action plan for your business.
1) Install a Firewall
This acts as the first line of defense and will alert you in advance of any intrusions. The FCC recommends that all small businesses have some kind of firewall in place in order to set a barrier between attackers and your important data.
To fully safeguard your company, it’s important to install both an external and an internal firewall. The latter will help reduce the chances of attacks from the inside. When employees are working remotely, it’s important to secure their networks as well so the business’s information is not susceptible to attacks.
2) Hire a Professional IT Team
Some small businesses choose to employ an in-house IT team who will understand your specific industry well and have intimate knowledge of your business and its processes. But many small businesses choose to outsource their IT security to a trusted managed services provider. This provides businesses with limited budgets with access to an entire team of IT experts at a fraction of the cost of in-house IT staff.
3) Focus on Insider Threats
Many small business owners would like to think that an inside attack would never happen to their business. They therefore focus their time and energy primarily on external threats. In fact, one study found that approximately 60% of businesses were victims of insider attacks in 2019. Unfortunately, this is a trend that is becoming more frequent and cannot be ignored any longer.
These findings should drive all businesses – but especially small businesses – to evaluate their security strategies, up their preparedness, and arm themselves with the tools they need to protect against these threats.
4) Educate Employees About Cyberthreats
Many data breaches are more often than not the result of careless mistakes by employees or the business owners themselves. A solid IT security strategy should start with educating employees about common cyberthreats and implementing best practices in order to avoid these mistakes.
5) Data Encryption
All data should be properly encrypted. Encryption disguises shared data when it’s transferred through networks, making the data more difficult to hack and mine. This simple step can go a long way towards improving security.
6) Create Strong Passwords
As a small business owner, you should have a policy in place for creating strong, hacker-proof passwords. This is particularly important if your company allows employees to use their own devices for work purposes. Ideally, passwords should contain a combination of lower-case and upper-case letters, symbols, and numbers. Passwords should be changed at least once every 90 days for ongoing security.
7) Antivirus Protection
Having a strong antivirus program in place that’s updated regularly is another essential way to keep outsiders from infiltrating your business. Out-of-date software is more vulnerable to attacks and can make your business a prime target for hackers.
8) Anti-Malware Software
Malware is often using in phishing attacks, and is typically installed on computers when a user clicks on a malicious link in an email. Often, these emails appear to be coming from internal sources, which makes them far more likely to get clicked on by unsuspecting users. Installing anti-malware software can minimize the threat of phishing attempts.
Anyone in the company who has access to sensitive information might be targeted in phishing attacks. But, by far, the highest risk comes when upper management is targeted. High-level executives have access to data that other employees don’t, including authorization for wire transfers – gaining access to this kind of power would be like finding the Holy Grail for an attacker.
The best way to prevent these specific types of breaches is to add an extra layer of verification and authentication for any sensitive request. It’s also important to monitor with whom and how executives communicate across social media platforms.
Salespeople should be trained to identify suspicious emails, and should think twice before sending critical information such as client lists, confidential info about deals, and pricing sheets.
In summary, information security should be a priority for businesses of all sizes, but even more so for smaller organizations. One successful cyberattack could be sufficient to kill your entire operation. Don’t take it lightly!
All of the above measures can be undertaken by you, as a small business owner, or your employees. However, for a reasonable monthly fee, all of your IT security needs can be managed by a team of certified IT professionals. Call DataGroup Technologies today at 252.329.1382 to learn more about how we can help your small business stay fully secure!