5 Tips to Make Digital Security Easy
While the internet provides businesses of all sizes with amazing tools that allows them to market to, and connect with, a wider customer base than ever before, increased digital activity also presents unique risks to business owners. With businesses storing more data digitally than ever, this can put business owner’s at great risk should they suffer a data breach, and contrary to popular belief, data breaches are a real threat to small businesses.
There is often a belief that small businesses are not at risk of falling prey to cyber attacks. This is understandable considering that large cyber attacks targeting major corporations tend to get the most attention in the media. However, it is estimated that over 40% of cyber attacks target small businesses, because cyber criminals assume that these companies do not have the resources to defend themselves; and this is often the case.
While large corporations have the resources to continue updating their cybersecurity, many small businesses don’t, which can cost them big following a cyber attack. The fallout from a cyber attack costs businesses an average of $3.86 million, which can have disastrous consequences for small businesses. In fact, 60% of small companies close within 6 months of a data breach.
This makes it critical that small-to-medium-sized businesses (SMBs) do everything in their power to defend themselves against a cyber attack. Even without access to the substantial resources larger corporations have, there are simple steps that you can take to drastically improve your company’s digital security. Here are a few easy tips you can follow that can help you avoid a costly cyber attack.
Keep Your Software Up to Date
As you have likely heard before, keeping all of your software, including your operating system and applications, updated is critical in ensuring your digital security. When you fail to perform system updates in a timely manner, you leave yourself vulnerable to hackers. This is because patching outdated software helps to remove vulnerabilities that hackers often exploit to access a company’s network. It is particularly important that you keep your antivirus software updated. While investing in high-quality antivirus software can go a long way in protecting your systems from malicious attacks, this software cannot do its intended job properly if it is outdated.
In order to ensure that your network is properly protected, make sure that you turn on automatic system updates on your devices as well as on your web browser. This can make it much easier to stay on top of updates as you will not have to think about doing them manually. Additionally, make sure that you perform updates as soon as they are recommended by an application. While it is easy to get busy and put off software updates, doing so can be costly.
Use Strong Passwords and a Password Management Tool
Something that cannot be emphasized enough is the importance of using strong passwords, as weak passwords are a common cause of cyber breaches. While it may be hard for many people to believe, PASSWORD is still one of the most commonly used passwords as it is easy to remember. However, using such a simple password is dangerous as it is easy for cyber criminals to guess. In order to properly protect your company’s sensitive data, it is critical that you use complex passwords that vary across your accounts. A few steps that you can take to ensure your passwords are secure include:
- Dropping simple passwords like “password”, 123456, or your birthday.
- Use passwords that are at least 8 characters long and include at least one lowercase letter, one uppercase letter, one number, and one special character.
- Don’t use the same password for multiple accounts.
- Never write down passwords or store them in a document on your computer where they may be discovered by hackers.
- Reset all of your passwords at least once a year for maximum security.
Of course, managing and keeping track of so many unique and complex passwords can be extremely confusing, and you may find yourself struggling to remember the login credentials you use on a regular basis. Fortunately, this is where a password management tool can prove to be extremely beneficial.
Password management tools are programs or software that can help you to generate and maintain strong, unique passwords for all of your accounts. They can enter credentials for you automatically and remind you to update your passwords periodically, helping to keep your accounts secure. All you will need to remember is one strong password to access your password management program.
Take Advantage of Two-Factor Authentication
In addition to using strong, varied passwords across all of your accounts, you can also protect your business’s data by taking advantage of two-factor authentication. Many websites and programs allow users to require two-factor or multi-factor authentication when logging in. While you would generally only need a username and password when accessing your accounts, two-factor authentication requires the input of additional information such as a PIN, another password, or a code sent to the email or phone number associated with the account (multi-factor authentication will require multiple of these additional steps). These added precautions can help to safeguard your company’s data by adding additional layers of security should your passwords become compromised.
Perform Frequent Backups
Of course, one of the most important things that you can do to protect yourself is to perform frequent backups. In the event that you fall prey to a data breach, having secured backups can be critical in getting you back on your feet. Make it a habit to back up your company’s critical data weekly both to local backups and the cloud. This helps to ensure that no matter what happens, whether you fall prey to a ransomware attack or your office is destroyed in a natural disaster, you will be able to restore your data from a recent backup.
Unfortunately, data breaches do come from within, often due to the actions of an employee whether intentional or not. This makes it critical that you limit employee access to data and information within your network. One of the most important things you can then do is to ensure that employees do not have access to all data systems; they should only be given access to the specific systems that they need for their jobs. Employees also should not be able to install software without permission. Furthermore, administrative privileges should only be given to trusted IT staff and key personnel. Limiting what data employees have access to can be critical in mitigating damage should a data breach come from within.
While small businesses are often the target of hackers looking to take advantage of the companies that are most vulnerable, simple steps can help to boost your digital security. Feel free to contact us to learn more about steps that you can take to prevent a data breach at your company.