Cybersecurity tips for small- and medium-sized businesses

Cybersecurity tips for small- and medium-sized businesses

Every business that relies on technology must be prepared for all manner of threats. Cyberattacks, such as ransomware, data breaches, and DDoS attacks, are only becoming more rampant. Most of these attacks can cripple operations and even an entire business. They can cost huge sums in derailed operations, reputational damage, and regulatory fines. The best way to avoid these risks is to significantly invest in security measures. Here are some of the essentials:

Security awareness training

Your employees can either be your first line of defense or your biggest vulnerability. Human error or employee negligence is the leading cause of data and security breaches. As such, businesses need to train employees in cybersecurity fundamentals. This includes teaching staff how to identify and avoid phishing emails, the importance of setting longer passwords, and the risks of connecting to unsecured Wi-Fi networks. With a robust security awareness training regiment, your weakest link can become your greatest asset.

Related article: 6 Poor Security Habits that Lead to Data Breaches

A cybersecurity policy

Establish formal cybersecurity policies regarding employee use of the company’s network and other connected devices. Such policies should be integrated into the onboarding of new employees to get them up to speed on what should and shouldn’t be done. Some essential guidelines should include the proper use of email and the internet, how to protect company-issued mobile devices, strong password creation and storage, multifactor authentication (MFA), remote access security control, the use of removable media such as flash drives, and the handling of sensitive and confidential data.

Access controls to software and hardware

According to Verizon, one in four data breaches involve insiders. One of the most effective ways to minimize this risk is by following the principle of least privilege. This means that any user should only have the bare minimum permissions needed to get work done. This will minimize the data that an employee can access, thereby reducing needless exposure of sensitive data and the risk of misuse.

Internal threats to data can also be managed through limitations of physical access to certain areas within company premises like server rooms. RFID doors, security checks, and fingerprint scanners are some measures to consider for maintaining strict physical access control and securing parts of the company premises from unauthorized persons.

Related article: Why Antivirus-Only Cybersecurity Isn’t Enough

Data backups

Malware, data breaches, outages, and even natural disasters are threats that lead to costly downtime. It is therefore essential for a business to protect its IT infrastructure and data by having a business continuity plan, particularly one with a disaster recovery system that will back up and restore business-critical data if it is damaged, lost, hijacked, or held hostage. We recommend using a combination of off-site or cloud backups and an on-site backup such as network-attached storage.

Anti-malware software

Anti-malware software is one of the vital security measures against ransomware, Trojan horses, worms, rootkits, and other malicious programs. Choosing the best anti-malware solution will depend on factors such as detection rates, system impact, privacy policies, updates, product support, and configurability. Ask a cybersecurity consultant for a recommendation.

Mobile device security

Mobile devices pose a significant security risk to businesses. As employees do more remote work, communicate, and handle business data on these devices, businesses are even more susceptible to attacks from multiple directions.

Related article: Tips for developing a successful cybersecurity plan in 2019

Your mobile security plan will typically involve the standard solutions of password protection, anti-malware software, user authentication, firewalls, and other precautions. Mobile device management software will allow your company to keep track of employee devices and wipe data when these are lost or stolen.

Software updates

Updating software, especially operating systems, can be a pain for users, so they often choose to ignore it at their detriment. Cybercriminals can hack into systems, steal data, or worse by exploiting security gaps that could have easily been fixed with security patches. Many software developers keep track of threats and release updates to patch vulnerabilities and make their applications more secure.

It’s crucial for businesses to update their software once a new patch is released. Delaying this just increases the chances of an attack. Enable automatic updates or notifications so that no time is wasted.

Encryption

Encrypting data is another must-have for security. This will ensure that in the event of a data breach, your data will be unreadable to attackers. Meanwhile, end-to-end encryption will make any data you send illegible to anyone but trusted users with a decryption key.

Related article: What have we learned from 2018’s chaotic cybersecurity tableau?

A managed services provider (MSP) can provide cost-effective security solutions that complement your business goals and protect your IT infrastructure and data. Partner with Spectrumwise and you’ll get a complete view of your business’s security needs. Contact us today.

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