Common concerns among business owners include outreach, revenue, and efficiency.
But many overlook one major threat: cyberattacks.
As more businesses migrate to virtual platforms, cyberattacks become increasingly common—and lethal to small and vulnerable organizations. However, there are simple measures business owners can take to protect their companies from cyber attackers.
Consider implementing the five keys to digital security to keep your small business secure online.
Protect your assets
The first step to securing an online business is implementing measures to keep your assets secure.
Use a virtual address
While cyberattacks remain a significant threat, many business owners suffer from porch piracy and identity theft. If you use your address to receive mail and deliveries, your packages and your person are vulnerable to attacks.
Keep your personal information secure by using a virtual address. A virtual address, or virtual mailbox, is a secure, physical mailbox you can rent at an alternative location.
Using a virtual address has many benefits. For example, you can avoid inefficiencies by checking your mail online from any location. But the most significant advantage of using a virtual address is keeping your personal information and assets secure from thieves.
Some businesses choose to invest in business insurance to protect their assets. A sound insurance policy will protect you from many common accidents, such as lawsuits, damages, and accidents.
Protect your products
Consider taking patents, trademarks, and copyrights on relevant products to protect your business from theft and imitation. If your business sells a physical product—particularly clothing—consider implementing counterfeiter protection software.
Learn to recognize potential threats
Learn the best practices for internet users to quickly and efficiently protect your business. You can implement these strategies immediately and teach your employees and partners to do the same.
Learn to recognize suspicious domains and e-mails from unknown sources, as these are familiar sources of digital piracy.
Phishing, sending fraudulent e-mails to harness data, poses a significant threat to small businesses. Use the Federal Trade Commission’s guidelines to spot and avoid phishing attempts.
Teach your partners and employees
If you work with anyone else—from partners and vendors to employees—consider teaching them to implement basic best practices. Teach them to spot phishing attempts and avoid suspicious downloads.
Protect your networks
First, protect your network with a password. Additionally, ensure that your router does not publicize your network name so others can’t see it. You can also protect your internet connection by using encryption software and firewalls.
Encryption scrambles information so you can only view it with a person decryption tool, while a firewall is a network security device that monitors traffic.
Shield your devices from viruses
Computer viruses are malicious software intrusions that compromise the security and integrity of your software and data. They are called viruses because they can replicate and jump between devices.
Protecting your business against viruses is an essential step to securing your operations, and there are distinct steps you can take to do so.
Install anti-virus software
Many types of anti-virus software exist, and most businesses use several services to protect their devices.
Take the time to research different anti-virus software programs and choose the most appropriate ones for you. Ensure that you install such programs on all devices you may use for work—including personal devices.
Continuously update software
Just as the flu virus adapts and evolves, so do computer viruses. Most devices and software programs continuously offer updates to protect users against virus mutations. Ensure you consistently update all software and hardware to the latest available versions to maximize your resistance to viruses.
Install an ad-blocker
Pop-up advertisements may contain viruses, so it is best to use an ad-blocker to prevent them from arising in the first place. There are several free ad-blockers available online. While a paid ad-blocker may offer added function, free versions are often just as effective.
Run virus scans
Despite your best efforts, you may still contract a computer virus. Run virus scans across all business devices to ensure you catch the virus before it can inflict significant damage.
Secure your data
Data theft remains one of the greatest threats to small businesses. Using virtual tools invites the risk of data breaches, and your business—or customers—can suffer significantly.
Aside from the financial consequences of theft, data breaches can cause your customers and employees to lose confidence in your company. Thankfully, there are relatively simple ways to protect your data against breaches.
Use strong passwords
A strong password is your best defense against data breaches.
Use passwords that contain uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. Encourage your employees and partners to do the same. Avoid obvious passwords, such as your name or birthdate. Keep passwords secure and avoid sharing them.
Use encryption tools
Encryption tools scramble data, so it becomes illegible. These tools help prevent people from accessing your information. Only you can decrypt your data using the encryption software you installed. Many encryption systems are free so you can install one today.
Enable multi-factor authentification
Multi-factor authentification (MFA) is a sign-in process that includes more than just a username and password.
There are many MFAs, but most will ask for additional codes, pins, or personal information.
There are now MFAs that allow users to use biological data to sign in, such as fingerprint and facial recognition systems.
Use secure payment portals.
Use a secure payment system to protect your business against fraud—and to secure your customers’ sensitive financial information.
Secure payment systems keep everyone involved in your business transactions safe, protecting your data and reputation.
Control data access
Consider restricting access to specific data banks if your organization deals with sensitive information.
You can authorize select users to access individual devices and programs and restrict others from doing so. Additionally, implement a robust and standardized process for removing former employees from all devices and systems.
Back up data
If something should happen to your data, you will be thankful to have saved it elsewhere. Consider backing data up on Cloud storage services such as Dropbox or Google Drive. You can also save files on USB drives or external hard drives.
Before you go
Remember that the best defense is preparation. It’s best to anticipate potential challenges than to meet them ill-prepared.
Implement as many security strategies as possible to maintain the integrity of your business so you can focus on what matters most.
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