This is likely due to the fact that, compared to their larger counterparts, startups and small businesses lack the in-house skills and budgets to invest heavily in expensive cyber defenses. But cybersecurity has gone from being a luxury to something no organization can afford to do without.
Data released by the Ponemon Institute revealed that the average cost of a data breach in the United States is more than $ 7 million. And the EU is introducing new legislation which stipulates that any company holding EU citizens’ data must commit to much stricter data protection regulations or face fines of up to € 4 million.
Clearly, therefore, from a financial standpoint alone it has never been more important for companies to invest in cyber security and defenses for their digital systems. Here we take a look at some of the ways small businesses can protect their crucial business data from cybercriminals and hackers.
Educate your staff and colleagues
It is important to understand that the most crucial line of defense against hackers is not a firewall or an external cybersecurity team, but your own personnel. Unfortunately, some of the most effective forms of cybercrime are facilitated by accidental or careless actions by employees. For example, one of the most common hacking techniques is a phishing email that pretends to be a genuine email to get an employee to reveal login credentials for the computer system.
This means that it is vital for you to train your staff and colleagues on common hacking and cybercrime techniques and how they can avoid being caught out.
Stolen customer data can be a nightmare for a business, not to mention the people whose data was taken. And while it may not always be possible to prevent sophisticated hackers from entering your system, it is possible to prevent them from gaining access to key data by encrypting it correctly. Encryption is useful for everything from protecting information stored in the cloud to maintaining the confidentiality and confidentiality of internal emails.
Don’t forget HR data
Many companies work hard to protect sensitive customer information with a secure computer network and custom database, but then forget that they also store a large amount of internal and human resources data. Keeping staff data in an insecure system makes it an easy target for hackers.
To make sure you are fully protected, it is very important to use high-quality, safety-conscious HR databases and staff rotation software.
Upgrade to Secure Sockets Layer (SSL)
If you have not yet decided to upgrade your website to SSL, it’s really worth doing. SSL is a process that ensures that a channel between websites and computers is always secure. You may have noticed more websites with HTTPS in the URL bar instead of the traditional HTTP – these are the sites that have been upgraded to SSL. Now is the time to do it too. It will ensure that anyone who visits your site is safer. Some companies assume that HTTPS is only needed when someone buys something, but it’s now considered a best practice.
Stay up to date
It is still true that hackers are much more likely to compromise a system if it is not updated regularly. Failure to update your software can make your entire company highly vulnerable, so make sure your website and any computer systems you use in the course of your job are kept fully up to date, as is your antivirus. If you don’t have security software yet, download a free antivirus for Windows and protect your computer and those of your company.
Work with specialists
Finally, it’s worth pointing out that companies often suffer at the hands of cybercriminals simply because they don’t have the skills to set up useful safeguards. For smaller companies that may not have the luxury of a large IT department, it’s helpful to work with outside cybersecurity professionals to benefit from their experience and knowledge.
BONUS: Change your passwords regularly
It is well known that default passwords should always be customized for each unique user. However, password security in terms of multiple numbers, case sensitive characters, and random symbols is only the first line of defense.
Usernames and passwords are a hacker gateway into your company’s operating system, so keep internet thieves at bay by changing both your username and password and employee login information on a monthly or even weekly basis. It can be challenging, but it’s worth it.