Because everything is done online and through machines these days, it’s easy for small businesses to inadvertently expose sensitive information. Employees may accidentally click a malware-containing email, an administration staff may share a customer’s credit card details to others, and so on.
Mistakes aside, it’s imperative for enterprises to maintain robust cyber security protocols to protect themselves from potential breaches and hacking.
Take a look at the following checklist to ensure that your small business is one step ahead against cyber threats:
- Evaluate Your IT Assets
Before anything else, it’s essential for businesses to account for their existing assets. This covers the following:
People and their skills - These pertain to members comprising the IT team and other departments, including their level of skills and competencies
- Physical IT assets – These refer to your IT infrastructure, such as servers, network, storage devices, computers, software, files, and so on.
It’s important to include your IT plan, including purchase, IT security and objectives, in every business plan amendment, or every year. This can help you project your annual spending better in the future.
- Review IT Policies In Place
In order to find out whether you need to update your IT procedures and rules, periodically review them, especially if there are new and emerging threats.
This list will serve as a guide:
- Relay your IT policies to everyone, including newly-hired staff.
- Make sure to have strong password and log-in policies.
- Have your staff change their passwords every three months, on average.
- Conduct yearly IT training for all staff to create a culture of cyber security.
- Help your IT person fulfill basic business cybersecurity needs.
- Have data privacy procedures in place, if your business doesn’t have one.
- Perform regular data backup.
- Use encryption to protect data.
- Have new employees, part-timers, and third parties sign a non-disclosure agreement for any information, digital or otherwise, that they may have access to in the course of their work.
- Draft contingency measures in handling major security breaches, natural disasters, and other forms of emergencies.
- Software And Device Security
Cybersecurity spending in 2020 was estimated at USD$123 billion.The cost includes protection for both hardware and software equipment. As security issues most often target the software and other related components, make sure you and your staff:
Strictly download and use authorized apps on your work phones and other devices Install the latest software versions, especially for your antivirus app.
Regularly perform virus scans.
Download the latest security patches to prevent bugs and other security weaknesses
- Have access levels to different users
- Only install software from an authorized source(s)
- Install effective email filters to screen potential messages that may contain spam, phishing, and malware
- Firewall, Network, And Connectivity Issues
Besides software vulnerabilities, hackers often explore network and connection weaknesses, too, and use them to their advantage.
- Make sure all network devices use the more secure Wi-Fi Protected Access II (WPA2).
- Have your firewall activated to protect your network from unauthorized access.
- Make sure your employees don’t connect to public Wi-Fi.
- Consider using virtual private network (VPN).
- Ensure your modem and servers are free from unauthorized access.
- Use intrusion detection and intrusion prevention systems to get notified of suspicious web activities and multiple log-in attempts from external visitors. Enable auto-block for a specific number of attempts.
- Use authentication to secure routing protocols.
- Disable ports without assigned devices.
- Turn off unnecessary connections via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, routers, and other devices.
- Ensure Hardware Security
As mentioned, protecting software and hardware is equally important in maintaining robust IT security for any business, and regardless of the size. Besides, some malwares and viruses can start infecting your device’s software and, eventually, cause major hardware issues.
To prevent this from happening, do the following:
- Purchase only reliable products from known brands.
- Upgrade your computer units at reasonable periods (i.e, every three to five years).
- Make sure all your devices have anti-virus and other security software installed.
- Check the Internet for product reviews, recalls, and other updates about specific computer hardware components.
- Ensure Cloud Security
Because of the immense benefits it provides, the use of cloud computing has exploded in recent years. As of 2018, there’s, at least, 3.6 billion cloud users worldwide, data from Statista shows.
While it remains a safe and cost-efficient way to store, access, share, and exchange digital data, cloud computing may result in breaches and unauthorized account access, in absence of security measures.
Thus, make sure that:
- The cloud services you use provide you with adequate data storage and privacy policies in place.
- Check whether your service agreement includes business access in times of emergencies and natural disasters.
- Make sure you have a contingency plan in case of loss of access to cloud services. For instance, cloud-to-cloud backup solutions could be part of that plan.
- Enable cloud data encryption.
- Use more stringent authentication systems.
- Make use of alternative backup methods.
Majority of organizations invest in information technology (IT), but not all are willing to spend more for cyber security. Fortunately, you don’t need to spend a fortune in building up the IT defenses of your small business. With the checklist presented above, your small business can stay protected as it continues to expand.