Whenever you hear cybercrime, you probably associate it with big businesses and corporations.
After all, why would anyone target your small enterprise?
Thinking like this could prove to be damaging and possibly catastrophic.
Small businesses are increasingly becoming the victims of cyberattacks. In fact, Symantec reported that out of all the cyber-attacks perpetrated in 2015, 43% targeted small businesses. Their report also indicated that the attack on small businesses has been on the rise, with 2011 having 18%, 2012 having 31%, 2013 having 30%, and 2014 having 34%.
So has the attacks on small businesses increased? In most, they are around the exact percentages as in earlier years. However, what has got the attention of security professionals is 88% of small business owners now worry about security and fear their site and network may be compromised at some stage.
A trend that is worrying too is 60% of small businesses that have been hacked went out of business within six months. IT security and cybersecurity are top priorities for businesses today.
But, remember, the reason for the cyberattacks is because hackers know small businesses have smaller budgets to apply the best security measures.
IT and Data Security Tips
Data security or protection, put simply, is the procedure employed to ensure that your data cannot be corrupted or accessed illegally.
Here are some tips to protect your startup or small business from opportunistic hackers.
Securing your data protects your business’s data while ensuring it stays private. Data includes all personal and business files that are stored in the database. The process of securing data generally follows these three steps.
For any data to be used, it must be understood on a human level. Encryption counters this by using a set of algorithms and mathematical schemes to scramble the information into an unreadable format. This encrypted text can only be decoded by someone with the decryption key.
To take it up a notch, end-point full encryption is employed. It encrypts every last bit of data in your hard disk, thus giving you very high protection.
Multi-Factor User Authentication
We encounter user authentication daily. You must undergo a one-step verification process every time you try to log into your computer or social media account. One-step verification is weak and is easily hacked.
A robust user authentication process often involves multiple verification stages, making hacking difficult. Use MFA on all logins – here is a guide to MFA and why you need to ensure your staff is using it.
Data Backup Plan
You have to be prepared for when the worst happens. Securing your data will never give you 100% assurance.
There is always the chance that there might be a loophole in the system, including an inside job. That is why the process of securing data also includes a backup plan.
The backup will ensure that although the information may be stolen, you can always restore it.
By now, you might be inclined to start securing your data; but why is it essential to do so?
Someone could be accessing your information without your knowledge
Industrial espionage is no longer a term relegated to spy films and large corporations; the threat of it happening to you or your business is real.
For example, competitors could use tracking tools to learn what you do. This information could give them an edge.
A trillion cyber-attacks were attempted during the past year
Dell reported that they helped prevent over 1 trillion hacks in twelve months. This figure is mind-boggling. You cannot possibly want to put your business at risk knowing that you could get attacked at any time.
The financial implications of a data breach
The costs of cleaning up and recovering your data after an attack are very high. The cost of setting up a data security system pales compared to picking up the pieces after being subjected to cybercrime.
As a small and growing business, your business wears its reputation like a badge of honor. Nothing could devastate your company faster than losing your customer’s trust.
Now that we know why it is important to secure your data, here are seven data security tips for small business:
1. Adopting EMV
EMV initials stand for Europay, MasterCard, and Visa. EMV is an encrypted payment system that uses microchips in the credit card to process transactions. In addition, it also protects the information on the card. This ensures that both parties are free from fraud.
Upgrade the payment system in your business to accept EMV cards. Not only will this protect your business, but it will also absolve you from liability if fraud does happen. Plus, train your team with PCI training online and get your PCI DSS compliance audited by an industry PCI DSS auditor.
2. Securing your wireless network
Wireless networks attract more hackers than a moth to a light bulb. While your standard network encryption key might keep your next-door neighbors from accessing your network, hackers could log into it in their sleep. This is why you need to use your router’s most robust encryption setting to protect your business. Additionally, disable the broadcasting function to make your network invisible. After all, they cannot hack what they can’t see.
3. Perform background checks
We might get caught up in securing our businesses against outside intrusions and fail to protect them from what is happening right before us. Inside jobs are the biggest threats to a company apart from cybercrime. Pricewatercoopers reported that employees orchestrated over 70% of frauds committed to small businesses.
You must be extra vigilant when selecting the right employees for your business. Check their backgrounds, as these will often give a clue about what kind of person they are. In addition, be observant of what is going on with your employees. Changes in character should be duly noted, as changes in their performance will often accompany these.
4. Decentralize password access to sensitive data
Never allow one person to have access to all the passwords. The entry levels should be distributed to different employees to minimize the risk of the data being breached. Maintain the central access key yourself.
5. Shred business documents
Physical documents need to be safeguarded. Access to the papers should require authorization from a vital source. This should ensure that in case a record goes missing, you can easily trail the theft process, or at least someone will be held accountable.
Additionally, old records that have their information in the database should follow the correct process of discarding. The best way to achieve this is through shredding by a particular person.
6. Upgrade your software
Buy the necessary software that will help you in this quest. These include encryption software and excellent antivirus programs.
Good corporate antivirus programs come in handy because hackers nowadays have automated their hacking systems and use AI. Bots will try to infiltrate your system; a good antivirus should handle this.
Plus, don’t forget your smartphone. You should also protect your mobile from viruses, which is even more critical if you work on a phone, including just answering emails.
7. Data backup of your business data
As previously discussed, backing up your data prepares you for the worst. It will save you a lot of hassle in case something does happen.
These security threats against your data information are unlikely to end anytime soon.
This is because the world has all but embraced the internet. Failing to have a website for your business is just bad business practice. The caveat is that this puts your business at risk of hacking. Therefore, securing your business in all ways possible is imperative.