Small businesses are easy targets for hackers. Since they often don’t think hackers will target their business, small businesses lack strong cybersecurity measures and protocols to protect their organizations.
If you’re a small business that isn’t prepared for potential breaches, you’re vulnerable to cyberattacks.
But what can you do to safeguard your cybersecurity? And where do you even start?
You can begin with the devices you and your employees use to run your business. This includes any device (AKA endpoints) used to connect to your systems — work computers, tablets, mobile phones, or any technology your team uses to connect to from home.
Small steps such as going over your regular cybersecurity hygiene and recognizing common cyber threats go a long way.
Here’s what you should know.
Basic Cybersecurity Hygiene
In cybersecurity, hygiene is the essential way to care about your devices in order to protect them against breaches. Fundamental basics include strong passwords, reputable tools that remove threats and using separate work devices.
Having strong passwords is like brushing teeth. Similar to not brushing your teeth for a day, a weak password may not do significant damage today, but over time it can create substantial damage to your company.
To strengthen those weak passwords:
- Avoid reusing passwords across multiple accounts—if a single one of them gets hacked, they provide a stepping stone to other accounts that guide sensitive information
- Create a strong password—we’re talking at least 15 characters, including different symbols and letters that can’t be connected to your personal information, such as date of birth or name
- Change passwords every three months — in case someone has cracked your password in the meantime
Once you and your team have strong passwords, install tools that effectively detect and defend your business. Firewalls and antivirus programs are a must.
Installing a firewall that prevents a virus from entering your devices is like washing hands. The firewall monitors traffic and defends you from outside threats such as viruses before they sneak into your systems.
Another essential tool you can install today is antivirus software from a reputable company. The firewall does a fantastic job at defending the network against internet threats. Still, it won’t protect you from dangers such as viruses that got into the system via an infected USB.
Antivirus programs scan for malware that is already on your device. Regardless of whether the virus got in via external drives or the link in a phishing email that installed it on your computer, your antivirus should detect and remove it.
Having separate devices that are used only for work also gives you more control over the security of your company. You can install the tools on designated devices and block any websites that aren’t secure or shouldn’t be accessed during work.
Hacker-Proof Your Devices With Layered Systems
Fool-proof security is layered. This means you’re not only relying on basic hygiene and tools that defect your organization. Instead, you have more protocols, tools, and systems that keep the hackers away from the organization.
Besides regular cyber hygiene, you also need frequent and thorough checkups. In cybersecurity, Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) is the doctor that makes sure your devices aren’t infected with viruses.
EDR is a layered system of protection that monitors, scans, and responds to cyber threats.
Recognizing Common Cyber Threats
It’s easier to spot that something is wrong if you know what you’re looking for. The cyber threats that every business owner and its employees should be able to recognize include:
- DDoS attack
Signs of malware include sudden computer crashes, error messages, or computers working a lot slower than usual.
Phishing is mainly done via email. Unknown senders will send you infected links or spammy messages that sound too good to be true.
DDoS is an attack that eCommerce stores should look out for. It overwhelms the site you use, such as an online store and makes it painfully slow. This results in customers abandoning their shopping carts very quickly – an e-commerce businesses worst nightmare.
Tools that scan the device for these types of threats will confirm that your computer has been infected or breached, but it’s important to know these common signs to react early.
The Best Time to Protect Your Small Business Against Hackers is Now
Even if you haven’t been a victim of a cyberattack as a small business, with the frequency hackers have targeted organizations with less than 200 employees, it’s only a matter of time.
Since businesses nowadays rely on technology to operate and grow, it’s important to protect the devices you use for work.
Knowing what to watch out for, having basic tools, and practicing good cyber hygiene is a start.
However, as your business grows and you start using increasingly complex systems and tools to prevent breaches, it’s essential to have solid and layered systems that keep your business safe at all times.