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Cybersecurity: 6 Useful Tips to Help Protect Small Businesses

As a small business owner, it's easy to believe that cybercriminals don't want anything from you anyway. Why should they bother with such small fish when there is much fatter prey?
Unfortunately, small and medium-sized businesses are extremely popular with crooks. Smaller companies in particular are particularly vulnerable because they have more digital equipment than traditional consumers but lack the IT infrastructure and expertise of large companies.
But that is no reason to despair. Organizations of all sizes can implement a robust security strategy with a budget that is appropriate for them. All that is required is a little planning. We've put together some useful tips on how to optimize cybersecurity in your small business.

Tips for strengthening cybersecurity in small businesses

Cybersecurity: 6 Useful Tips to Help Protect Small Businesses

1. Train staff

Employees are your first line of defense on many levels. Therefore, it is imperative that you train existing and new workers on the basics of cybersecurity. This includes, for example, using two-factor authentication whenever possible and teaching employees how to create strong and unique passwords. They should also learn how to spot signs of phishing attempts. Also, educate your staff about the dangers lurking in public WiFi so that they do not take any security risks when working outside the office. Another possibility, for example, is to send regular e-mails to keep everyone up to date on current security threats and innovations in internal processes and requirements.

2. Create a cybersecurity policy

Regardless of the size of your business, it is always a good idea to have an official cybersecurity policy in place. In the document, you establish regulations and security controls for your staff regarding the use of the network and the devices in your company. This should also be used when hiring new workers (see tip no. 1). Although the importance of such a guideline is obvious, according to the research institute Ipsos, only four in ten small businesses (39 percent) have set official requirements for protection against cybersecurity risks.

3. Restrict access to software and hardware

However, cybersecurity doesn't just mean protecting your system from external attacks. There are also internal threats. Verizon figures show that one in four data breaches involves an internal person.
One of the most effective methods of preventing this is what is known as the "principle of least rights". Ultimately, it means nothing other than that all users only receive the minimum permissions that they need to carry out their respective work. In this way, individual employees only have access to the data relevant to their function, which minimizes the risk of confidential information falling into the wrong hands.
Depending on the data your company is working with, it may also make sense to restrict physical access to certain business areas. Precautions for access control such as RFID locking systems, security controls, fingerprint readers, password-protected control panels and the like are essential to prevent unauthorized persons from entering important company areas.

4. Create backups

The IT infrastructure plays a major role in almost every company these days. If it fails, the consequences could be disastrous. Studies by market research company IDC have found that IT outages cost small businesses an average of 137 to 427 USD per minute (!).
These figures make it clear how important it is to have an effective backup system in order to be able to react quickly in the event of data loss and to be able to resume operations. Make sure you also use a combination of on-site backups (such as a network drive) and external backups (such as a cloud service you trust). So your data is safe even from major disasters.

5. Invest in proven antivirus / anti-malware software

Another important layer of protection is reliable antivirus software. It protects your company from a wide variety of digital threats, such as ransomware, Trojans and worms. Should a malicious file make its way onto one of your computers (e.g. through a rash employee click or a zero-day exploit), you need to be confident that the software will detect, stop, and remove the threat before it gets into your System can cause damage.
However, do not rely on detection rates alone when choosing an antivirus solution. Considerations such as system utilization, data protection guidelines, customer service and configurability should also be included in your decision. If you're looking for resource-efficient software with a friendly and honest support team, give Emsisoft Anti-Malware a try.

6. Update software regularly

Many cyber attacks take advantage of security gaps in the operating system or installed software. To close them and make their applications more secure, developers publish updates.
It should therefore be imperative for business owners to install new updates for their programs as they become available. The longer you take your time with this, the greater the risk of attack. So if you see a notification of an update, take the time to install it, even if you're working on something else. Enabling automatic updates, if available, is even better and easier. The same applies of course to all business apps on your mobile devices.

Protect your business

Indeed, today's SMBs face a veritable deluge of digital threats. However, that doesn't mean that you have to throw yourself into expense or set up a separate IT department. If you put in place a formal security policy, implement a layered security strategy, and teach your staff how to identify signs of an attack, you will have done a lot to protect your business.