As more small businesses move towards an increasing reliance on technology, the risk of becoming vulnerable to a cyber attack also grows. From digital fraud to large scale cybersecurity breaches, almost every business in every industry is now at risk of having their vital information compromised via computers or smart devices.
Large businesses typically have robust measures in place to protect them from major losses if they become victims of cybercrime. But for many small businesses, these advanced tools aren’t as accessible. This makes it even more important for small businesses to think about how to make cybersecurity a priority.
If you’re not sure where to start, we’re here to provide you with five of the most important strategies to consider when improving your cybersecurity practices.
Develop a Cybersecurity Policy
The first step that every business should be taking to refresh and advance their cybersecurity practices is to establish a comprehensive cybersecurity policy. This should be an evolving document that notes the organization’s security protocols, guidelines, and procedures.
All policy documentation should be clear, concise, and easily accessible to employees in the business. Whenever updates are made to the policy, this must be clearly communicated to everyone in the company.
Cybersecurity policies should outline various aspects of cyber protection, including:
- Password management
- Data encryption
- Email and internet usage
- Social media guidelines
- Reporting procedures for suspicious activities
You may want to include suggestions for tools like password managers. These help employees keep track of numerous passwords at one time, without having to remember a complicated and safe combination of letters, numbers, and characters.
There should also be clearly noted outcomes for or consequences for non-compliance that emphasize the importance of adhering to the cybersecurity policy.
Provide Regular Training and Education
Like any other in-house training, cybersecurity education should be an ongoing process and not a one-time event. Businesses should conduct regular training and invest in education programs that help keep employees updated on the latest cybersecurity threats and best practices for dealing with these.
Workshops, webinars, online courses, and cybersecurity conferences are all helpful ways for your team to learn. Different options should be considered to accommodate different learning styles, while some team members may need to attend more extensive training than others.
For instance, the IT team should have the highest level of access to cybersecurity training, as they’re often the first line of defense and protection against targeted attacks. They will likely have more interaction with phishing scam attempts than other team members, and will need to know exactly how to deal with any possible threat as quickly as possible.
All employees should be educated on how to spot potential phishing attacks, how to protect their personal and wider company information, along with how to identify suspicious links and attachments.
Limit Access and Privileges
You may have several different softwares or systems within your business, all of which are vulnerable to cyber attacks. Limiting who has access to these systems, or the level of access that various team members have, can help keep your small business protected.
For especially critical business data, like customer details or financial records, limiting who has access is essential. This helps to minimize the threat of a data breach and also reduces the chance of untrustworthy employees gaining access to sensitive information.
Within the cybersecurity policy, roles and permission levels should be outlined to make it clear who has access to which pieces of information. When new employees join the company, your IT team should know upfront the details they need to have access to.
Regularly Update and Patch Software
Every small business should be investing in basic digital security systems, like antivirus software on every company-owned device. Regular updates should be made to these systems (many of which can be automated to update on a set schedule), as updates typically contain patches to outdated software that can include new security measures.
For employees who are responsible for making their own updates, emphasizing the importance of these updates is crucial. Protocols should be established and included in the cybersecurity policy documentation about how to update software, operating systems, and antivirus tools.
It’s also important not to overlook mobile device updates. Many of these devices are connected to the central company network, which means they’re sharing the same sensitive information as desktop devices. Employees should be password protecting their mobile devices and ensuring that they connect to secure wi-fi networks when not in the office.
Prohibit Unauthorized Programs and Websites
If your business doesn’t already block particular websites from the local internet network, this is also a helpful measure to take when thinking about securing business data. When these sites are added by the IT or security team, employees will be unable to access the sites and can’t install any unauthorized software to their company devices.
Unauthorized programs can make a small business especially vulnerable. These could contain malware which could infect the whole company network, even if it’s installed on a single device.
From there, cybercriminals can gain backdoor access to the business network, where they could review and download company documents and hold them for ransom. Ransomware, where business data is stolen and a monetary ransom is demanded for their return, is a common cybercrime that all businesses should be aware of.
Similarly, websites may contain phishing links in the same way an email can. This is particularly the case on social media, so it can be helpful to block these sites from all employees—although it’s best to check with your marketing team first to ensure they have access to what they need!
If other employees want to look at these sites for their own personal use, mobile devices can be used via their own mobile network, rather than being connected to the company’s local network.
Protect Your Small Business with First National Bank of Newtown
As your local community bank, The First National Bank & Trust Co. of Newtown wants to help you safeguard your business’s most important and confidential information.