The Ultimate Cybersecurity Guide for Small Businesses
Small businesses have become prime targets for hackers, and for good reason. Compared to large corporations, small businesses tend to have many gaps in their security. In fact, 45% of SMB owners admit that their company would not be able to withhold a cyber attack.
Simply put, hackers have much higher chances of success when targeting small businesses. Luckily, you can take steps to safeguard your business and ensure that any attempt hackers make is unsuccessful.
The biggest threats
Ransomware is a type of malware that allows a hacker to encrypt a device or database and make it inaccessible to the rightful owner. Once this data is encrypted, the hacker usually asks for a specific sum of money and promises to give back access once the money is paid. Ever since the pandemic, ransomware attacks have gone up by 148%, and they’re expected to cost businesses worldwide a whopping 20 billion dollars in 2021 alone.
Phishing. This is a type of digital scam where hackers pretend to be somebody they’re not (usually a trusted organization) and try to get their hands on sensitive company information. For example, a phishing email may contain a fake message that looks like it’s coming from your bank. The email may ask you to verify your account by entering your login details through a specified link.
Insider threats. The truth is that 60% of business data breaches happen from within the organization. Even the ones closest to you in business - your partners and employees - can cause a horrible data breach. That’s not to say that all of your employees and partners are out to get you. Data breaches can be accidental, but the result is the same, which is why small business owners must be vigilant.
Man-in-the-middle attacks. This is when a hacker manages to intercept the connection between two parties. For example, if the wifi network you’re connected to isn’t secure, a hacker may be able to intercept your connection with that network and spy on your activity. This is an especially prevalent threat with the rise of remote working: companies can no longer control which networks employees connect to, and business data may easily be compromised.
Cybersecurity tips for small businesses
Now that you know the biggest threats small businesses face, you can also imagine how important cybersecurity is for business. Here are some great cybersecurity tips to apply to your company today:
Raise phishing awareness within your company
Your business is only as strong as its weakest member. One naive employee falling for a phishing email might be enough to take your business down. That’s why all members of your organization must be properly trained on recognizing and avoiding phishing schemes. Here are some of the main points that you should cover:
Always check the security of a URL before clicking.. This can be done by hovering over the link and making sure that it begins with “HTTPS” (which means the website is encrypted) and not “HTTP” (which means the website is not encrypted).
Never send sensitive company data through email. Legitimate organizations like banks will never ask employees to send bank account login information through email. Be suspicious of any unusual requests. If an employee receives a suspicious email that seems like it’s coming from their boss and that email contains a strange request, they should check in with their boss to see if the email is legit.
Be suspicious of any unusual requests. If an employee receives a suspicious email that seems like it’s coming from their boss and that email contains a strange request, they should check in with their boss to see if the email is legit.
Report suspected phishing schemes. If one of your employees is hit by an attempted phishing scheme, it’s reasonable to believe that the same scheme was sent to other members of your company. Informing others about specific schemes that may be coming their way will ensure they don’t fall for them.
Encrypt your network
To avoid man-in-the-middle attacks, you must make sure that the network you and your employees connect to is secure. This means using strongly encrypted wifi at the office. However, the biggest problem is that employees might use compromised networks when working remotely.
To ensure this doesn’t happen, the first thing to do is communicate the importance of using secure networks and avoiding public wifi at all costs The next step is to install VPNs on all company devices. This cybersecurity tool will keep a device’s data strongly encrypted even if it’s connected to a compromised network.
Control access to sensitive data
You already learned that insider threats present a huge problem in business data security. No matter how much you trust your employees, you can never be 100% sure they won’t leak your business data on purpose or fall for a phishing scheme. Keep in mind that the more people that have access to sensitive company data, the higher the chances of a data breach. That’s why you should limit access to sensitive company data as much as you can. Things like bank account information or social media login information should not be available to just anyone: it should only be available to the employees who need this data to perform their work.
Keep a backup
Things can go south no matter how much you try to avoid it: your business may be targeted by ransomware, your devices can malfunction, or an employee may accidentally delete your data. If anything like this happens, a backup will help you return to business as usual right away.
Use cybersecurity software
There are many cybersecurity software tools that are easy to use and allow businesses to secure their data quickly and easily. For starters, make sure you use at least the following three cybersecurity tools:
Antivirus. As you can imagine, it’s very important to keep your work devices malware-free. Antivirus software will help detect malware before it causes any damage to your business.
Firewall. A firewall can help you monitor all activity on your company’s network. This means you can detect suspicious activity like hackers or viruses and block them from entering your business network.
Password manager Passwords are the barrier between your company’s data and outsiders, and you want this barrier to be as strong as possible. A password manager will help you create, store, and access all company passwords quickly, securely, and conveniently.
Use a secure web hosting provider
Most small businesses have a website. While a website opens your business up to many new opportunities, it also opens it up to plenty of cyber threats. From malicious code injections to DDoS attacks to various types of malware, no website is ever completely safe. However, if you choose a secure hosting service provider like Hostinger, you can mitigate these threats and enhance the security of your website and business.
Now you know how important cybersecurity is for your small business. You may have avoided the crossfires of cybercrime up until now, but that doesn’t mean you’re safe. It doesn’t matter how big or profitable your company is. Small and less profitable businesses are actually more attractive targets for hackers than large corporations, but following the tips mentioned above will help you take your company out of the frontlines of cybercrime.