Your small business is growing. Your brand is gaining recognition. You’re hiring more staff. These are occasions worth celebrating. But as your business grows, so do its security threats. Unsavory actors, from hackers to competitors, will try to access your data.
You might think it won’t happen to your business. But statistically, it’s only a matter of time before an attack happens. Last year alone, 42% of small businesses were victims of cyberattacks. The question is: will you be ready?
It’s of critical importance to secure your physical and digital assets before an attack occurs. Below are the most important steps you can take to secure your business.
1. Use a Firewall
This one should be obvious. But surprisingly, not all small businesses use a firewall. And those that do often use the wrong one.
First things first: if you don’t currently have a firewall for your business, anything is better than nothing. Download a free firewall online to provide a basic level of protection.
As your business grows from your garage to an office, you’ll want better protection than a free version. At the same time, small businesses don’t need expensive enterprise firewalls.
Choose a firewall that provides adequate protection for what you have and also allows for growth.
2. Change Passwords Regularly
How often do you change your passwords? What about your employees? It doesn’t matter how unguessable your password is. Data leaks expose passwords all the time, and hackers pay good money to snatch them up.
Everyone who works for you should change their passwords every 3 months for optimal protection. They shouldn’t use the same passwords or variations that they use for personal accounts.
For increased protection, you can use two-factor authentication (2FA), which requires both a password and a second security protocol, such as a one-time code or a security question.
3. Limit Access—Physically and Digitally
The fewer people have access to your sensitive data, the safer it will be. Your trade secrets and customer data should be accessible on a need-to-know basis. Staff who don’t need certain information shouldn’t be able to access it. This compartmentalization closes off potential pathways to your data and reduces the likelihood of a successful attack.
This applies to physical assets too. For example, don’t let your staff take their laptops to lunch. Hackers can easily steal company property and access your systems. Also, don’t give everyone keys to the office or the server room. Open doors lead to open ports, which is the easiest way for a hacker to install malware.
4. Assess Your Cyber Vulnerabilities
You can’t know all of your vulnerabilities without seeing your business from the perspective of an attacker. This is why it’s important to allocate resources to attack surface management (ASM). ASM involves assessing your risk of exposure to malicious actors across your entire business.
Simply mapping out various aspects of your business, from your apps to your supply chain, can help you identify potential points of attack and close loopholes.
When it comes to cybersecurity, third parties can also assist with vulnerability management. They provide more in-depth assessments by running simulated attacks and performing dark web monitoring to identify data breaches.
5. Educate ALL Staff on Security
The human element of your cybersecurity is often the weakest link, especially because many people are painfully unaware of threats. Salespeople might use their personal phones for business, and secretaries may leave their computers unattended for long periods of time. Others may give out sensitive information to anyone who calls and says they are an employee.
Educating 100% of your staff on physical and digital security is essential to preventing attacks. It only takes a few emails a year and a day or two of meetings to keep them up to date on threats and compliance measures.
Secure Your Business to Thrive
Small businesses may not make the news when they get hacked, but they have a lot more to lose than major corporations. Just one attack can crush a small business financially. And the loss of faith from customers can result in a big drop in sales. No matter the size of your business, it’s critical that you take robust security measures to ensure your long-term success.