Businesses lose, on average, about $200,000 on cybercrime, let alone viruses, ransomware, and other malware. For startups and small businesses, $200,000 is a lot of money, and most of them end up closing shop. Next time you want to overlook cybersecurity, remember a single cyberattack could have your entire business crumbling down.
With more and more businesses embracing digitization and eCommerce, hackers and fraudsters are increasingly on the prowl to capture unsuspecting businesses. As a business owner, it’s up to you to put the right measures in place to combat cybercrime and maintain your company’s data integrity. However, to most business owners who only know a smattering of IT, doing so is easier said than done.
Thankfully, you don’t need to be a computer guru to craft a robust security strategy that protects your company. In fact, sometimes doing so is as easy as procuring security software, but that would be oversimplifying it; In practice, it’s not that easy.
In this post, we’ll be expounding on how businesses can improve their cybersecurity and keep hackers and malware at bay.
Encrypt All Your Data
By encrypting all your data, we mean encrypting EVERYTHING. If you encrypt only a small chunk of your data, you’ll still be vulnerable to cyber-attacks. So when it’s time to encrypt data, make sure you get everything, even data from mobile devices.
You can think of encryption as jumbling up any data that you store or in transit. That way, unauthorized persons who get access to your data only get a jumbled and incoherent version of the data. However, authorized persons can “unjumble” the data, using a specialized deciphering key.
Encrypting your data is as easy as buying an encryption tool online or one from a computer store. To amp the anty, you can call in encryption experts to give your data even more protection. For startups and small businesses, off-the-shelf software will do just fine.
To take things even a notch higher, you should consider employing blockchain for your intranet or internal network. In simple terms, blockchain encrypts every record on your computer systems automatically. It’s the ultimate way to prevent cheating, fraud, and hacks in your system.
Update Your Software as Soon as You Have New Updates
Updating your business software seems simple enough, but you’d be surprised how many business owners overlook updating software. Updates aren’t a waste of time, contrary to what most business owners think. Even if your software works fine, you still have to update them.
Updating software addresses any bugs, crashes that you encountered with the software. Updates also address any security loopholes with the software. With hackers and fraudsters coming up with new ways every day to bypass software security, you’re better off updating your software.
That said, make sure you update every software in your company, especially email, messaging, and data-handling software. Updating off-the-shelf software is a breeze, but what about custom-developed software? Custom-developed software are software that developers create specifically for one company.
That makes updating software difficult because all the updates depend on the software developer. However, most developers have quality assurance teams responsible for handling all the updates and fixing bugs. That’s why it’s so important to make sure you find the right developer for your tailor-made software.
For businesses with large digital environments, updating software isn’t as easy as you’d think. That’s because you may have hundreds of computers and mobile devices that you need to update simultaneously. What’s more, some updates may render the software unusable while they install.
For larger digital environments, you may have to schedule your updates for an appropriate time. That way, you can update your software without interrupting any business activities.
Have Your Passwords on Lock
Before you get to complex practices like data encryption et cetera, make sure you first have your passwords on lock. Password protection is very crucial for your business’s cybersecurity. While setting up a password is easy; setting up a strong password is where things get a bit challenging.
Here are a few pointers you should keep in mind when you’re setting up your passwords:-
Avoid using the same password for various devices and applications. If you do so, should someone crack your password, he/she instantly gets all the keys to the kingdom.
Change your password every once in a while. It’s not a very good idea to retain the same password over a long time. For ultimate protection, always change your password now and then.
Make sure all your passwords have eight plus characters. These characters should be a combination of numbers, letters, and special characters. Also, make sure it isn’t something obvious like your birthday or spouse’s name.
Always log out of your device the moment you step away from it. We’re all guilty of not logging out of our devices. For your personal devices, it’s okay, but for your business devices and apps, it’s a definite no-no.
Don’t write your passwords, especially on your desk or your notebook. If you’re having trouble remembering all your passwords, then use a password manager instead. It is a nifty tool for saving all your passwords that only you can access.
If you want to take password security to the next level, then consider using passphrases. Passphrases are like passwords but instead use phrases. Instead of a string of characters, you use a string of words in a particular order.
Passphrases are easier to remember but harder to guess. Adopt passphrases instead of passwords for ultimate business cybersecurity.
Install a Firewall
Install a firewall for your internal network to keep hackers and other cybercriminals at bay. A firewall is like a barrier that protects your network from entities outside the network. It monitors what goes into the network and what comes out of it.
Most operating systems come with a pre-installed firewall, but you can always install a new one if the pre-installed one isn’t up to the task. A proper firewall will give you records of any attempts to log into the system. That way, you can trace back to the source of the threat to prevent future attempts.
Install a VPN
Apart from a firewall, you should also install a VPN. VPN abbreviates virtual private network and is a secure remote network where you can run all your data through. It’s especially useful when you’re using public wifi.
If you have any employees that work remotely, then they can use VPNs to secure their connections. That way, they can send emails and other essential documents without fear of interference from hackers. You’ll have to pay a monthly subscription for the most secure VPNs, but they’re worth every penny.
Be Vigilant of Phishing Scams
Phishing is rampant these days, and a single phishing trap can compromise your entire company’s security. The most basic form of phishing is where you receive an email from a “colleague” or “friend” that asks you to click on a link. This link redirects you to a download to ransomware or a program that compromises your entire security.
It’s hard for software to detect any phishing scams because, on the surface, they appear just like legitimate emails. However, if you’re keen enough, you can tell a phishing email from an original one. Anything that looks suspicious, like misspellings or emails that are out of context, are most likely phishing ploys.
You’ll be better protected from phishing if you can download and install a virtual assistant. A virtual assistant keeps tabs on all your emails so they can flag any suspicious links. If you want to sidestep phishing schemes, then a virtual assistant is a must-have.
Be Stricter With Information Transfer
Most companies have adopted BYOD (Bring Your Own Devices) in their workplaces to boost productivity. It is a policy where workers can bring their own devices to work. That way, they can be more comfortable with the devices they use to carry out their daily tasks.
It is a seemingly great policy for any business. However, the BYOD policy can compromise your company’s security. With so many foreign devices entering the company premises each day, there’s a high likelihood that company information can fall into the wrong hands.
To prevent such ugly scenarios, it’s best to implement strict information transfer policies in the workplace. After implementing such policies, you should consider moving storage to the cloud. That way, your employees don’t have to store any company information on their devices.
If you’re using AWS as your cloud service provider, you might want to check out how you can amp your AWS security. In doing so, you can make information transfer between your employees bulletproof.
Also, make sure you train your employees on proper data and network security. For your training to be effective, it has to be comprehensive and consistent. One training seminar on cybersecurity once a year won’t cut it.
Your Business Cybersecurity Is in Your Hands
Remember, you have only yourself to blame should your company fall victim to cybercrime. However, with the above cybersecurity tips, you should be more than prepared for any cyberattacks. If you’re having a hard time with your security strategy, you can always seek professional help.