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10 Essential Cyber Security Tips for Small Businesses

Small businesses are vulnerable to various internal and external threats. However, the most talked about risk in the current scenario is from hackers specifically targeting small entities. Digitalisation has ensured that all the data is stored on computer systems, which makes it easy for hackers to break into systems and steal confidential information. Data leak affects the brand’s image and a decline in sales due to customer churning.

Buyers lose their trust in the brand, and bringing back the brand’s lost glory and credibility becomes challenging. Thus, preparing a cyber security strategy and implementing various safety measures that avert cybercrime is crucial. Here is a list of ten essential cyber security tips for small businesses that keep cyber attacks at bay. Executing these processes in the workplace is vital to avoid financial loss and negative publicity.

1. Prepare A Cyber Security Plan

A cyber security plan involves identifying the assets vulnerable to cybercrime and must be protected. Entrepreneurs must determine the type of threats that can affect their business, such as malware, phishing, ransomware, etc.

The strategy must be a part of the business plan and include the list of cyber security tools needed to thwart the attempts of data breach and ways to keep the information safe when it is shared, stored and collected. It should have the steps to be taken in case of an attack and the people involved in the mitigation process.

2. Train the Workforce About the Protocol

Training the employees and making them aware of the various threats and security measures is crucial. They must be given a checklist for correctly handling data, digital tools, and systems. They must be informed to protect data while working remotely or sending important emails to clients.

It involves using data encryption and never clicking on email links unless coming from secure and authentic sources. A trained workforce increases the entity’s value when you sell business online at retirement.

3. Use Strong Passwords and Limit Access

Employees should have a separate login profile on their computers. Unauthorised individuals should not be able to use them. Small businesses forget to restrict access to sensitive data, leading to breaches. Thus, it is vital to initiate role-based access control and the access to systems must be monitored.

In addition, employees must be trained to use strong passwords that cannot be hacked easily. They must be impersonal, long, unique, complex, and include special characters, numbers and upper and lower case letters.

4. Maintain Your Data Backup

Data is the most valuable asset of a small business in the digital age. From business plans and financial information to customer details and bank statements, a huge amount of classified data is vulnerable to attacks. Besides hackers, natural disasters can lead to data loss as the systems can get destroyed in floods and earthquakes.

With the help of a backup, the business can quickly resume work without downtime and avoid losses. It must be stored in a remote location on the cloud with the help of a service provider and can be easily handed over when you sell your business online.

5. Create A Secure Network

Cybercriminals identify private networks for hacking and steal confidential business information. E-commerce businesses are at risk because of this and need to keep their network secure. They must use a firewall to protect the internet connection as all the data is shared online. In addition, they must install antivirus and antispyware to keep the devices, browsers and operating systems safe. The information getting passed between devices must be encrypted.

6. Update Software At the Earliest

Businesses use software to complete different activities, such as accounting, project management, database management, customer relationship management, etc. These must be updated regularly to take advantage of the new features and improve data privacy. Old software can be hacked easily, whereas updated software is well-protected and prevents data violations. Updated software helps to increase productivity through minimisation of risk, costs and errors. 

7. Install Firewalls

Firewalls protect the network from malicious traffic and websites. It creates a barrier between the private network and the external network. They enhance the security of the system and ensure that there is no unnecessary traffic on the business website and the system. They keep the devices safe and the data protected from cyber attacks.

8. Use A Virtual Private Network

A virtual private network (VPN) helps to build an encrypted connection between the devices used in the workplace and the servers. It helps employees securely connect to the internet or the business’s internal network without compromising data privacy. It is vital if the business has remote workers or branches in different locations. VPN is a cost-effective and strong protective measure for small businesses.

9. Keep Mobile Devices Protected

Many employees use their mobiles to send business emails, share files, and access data. It is easier for hackers to steal information from these devices because they are not protected like the computer systems. The business can lose sensitive data in minutes if they are lost or stolen.

Thus, entrepreneurs who plan to sell business online should ask employees to install user authentication on devices and strong passwords. They must be updated frequently and should not be connected to public Wi-Fi. The data must be locked and backed up.

10. Monitor the System for Risk

Risk assessment is an ongoing part of running a business. Cyber security is an integral part of the business and must be reviewed frequently because the industry keeps evolving quickly. Every few days, a new tool or malware exists in the market.

Thus, entrepreneurs should determine and eliminate the vulnerabilities immediately to avoid getting hacked. It is vital to conduct this assessment when you intend to sell business online to stay protected during the due diligence process and increase the value of the venture.

Wrapping Up

Cyber security has become the most significant aspect of managing IT systems and data in an organisation. It must be implemented and regulated to prevent data breaches and avoid losses. Use the tips above to create a robust cyber security plan for your business.