In a landscape where small and medium businesses (SMBs) represent the target of 43% of all data breaches and suffered losses exceeding $2.8 billion in 2020 alone, the need for cybersecurity readiness is starkly evident. While large firms maintain dedicated cybersecurity departments, budget constraints can hinder small businesses from doing the same. Thus, small businesses should empower themselves to handle cybersecurity whenever possible.
Though we always recommend partnering with a managed service provider (MSP) to help augment internal resources, here are a few tips that you can use to help bolster your defense against cyberattacks.
Cybersecurity for Small Businesses can be Improved Following Best Practices
You don’t always need a Cybersecurity professional to improve the security posture within your organization. Often times, some intentional planning and a power user are the tools you need. Those power users can help to build a company culture around security.
Educate Employees on Cybersecurity Topics
Human error and system failure account for 52% of data security breaches. The best precaution you can take is to establish basic security practices amongst your employees. Enforce policies for strong password creation, responsible internet usage, and proper handling of customer data. Regular training including simulations may help keep your employees sharp while identifying those that may need more education.
One very helpful way to educate your employees about cybersecurity is to subscribe to a Cybersecurity Awareness Training program. There are great solutions from KnowBe4, Barracuda, and Microsoft. We’ve helped several clients implement KnowBe4 to help them save money on their business insurance policy.
Keep Company Devices Updated
Most cybersecurity breaches happen when laptops, desktops, multi-function copiers and printers firewalls, other devices and software aren’t properly maintained. Mitigate these risks by keeping devices updated with the latest web browser, operating system, anti-virus and firmware versions. These steps significantly reduce the threat of malware and online risks, especially if professional cybersecurity services aren’t an option.
Secure Wi-Fi Networks
Another efficient way to keep your data secure from online threats is by making sure that you have a secure WiFi network. This means more than just setting up a password – you must make sure that the connection is secure, encrypted, and hidden. You can use the WPA2 encryption standard, RADIUS, and MAC filtering to limit WiFi access to the corporate network. If you’re providing Internet for guests and vendors, you should have a separate wireless network separated by a VLAN from your corporate network.
Limit Employee Access Authority
As mentioned earlier, sometimes an organization’s cybersecurity plan is only as strong as its employee policies and procedures. Employees don’t need access to all data systems, only the ones they need to fulfill their duties. Your employees should also need permission to install any software onto their devices to avoid the downloading of malicious software. ActiveDirectory is the technology that Windows and Azure uses to grant access. You can define policies by groups and individual accounts.
Properly Set Up Firewalls
Firewalls act as barriers against external access to computing resources. There should be a firewall in place between the Internet and your corporate network. For many small businesses, firewall and router are combined into a single device.
Firewalls can also be software to protect computers and servers. This allows you to restrict access to the machine from within your network.
When implementing firewalls, it’s best practice to deny access on all ports unless it’s necessary for the role(s) fulfilled by the device.
Safeguarding data demands proactive engagement, resourcefulness, and resilience. Because of the breadth of resources available to them, managed service providers and cybersecurity firms are ultimately the best way to ensure the security of your company and clients. However, small businesses may need alternative methods. These 5 steps can jumpstart data protection if you’re going solo, but remember, ongoing efforts are crucial for maintaining security. For an additional set of eyes on your cybersecurity setup, contact us for a technology review.