Think security measures are just for big companies? Small businesses are at risk, too, and they need to protect themselves from hacking, data theft, and other cybercrimes. In fact, small companies that have large companies as clients are often targeted by hackers who assume they’ll be able to break into the bigger company’s highly desirable data through the smaller company’s less-secure system. Luckily many of the same security measures used by big companies are available to you.
Use a Firewall
Does installing firewall protection for your office and remote employees sound daunting? It’s surprisingly simple. A firewall seals open ports in your network that could leave you vulnerable to attack. To a cyber criminal, leaving open ports on your system is similar to leaving your front door standing wide open at home; it’s an invitation. Firewall software is affordable — there are even free programs available — and simple to run. Your router may have firewall software already installed. If so, take a moment to look over the configuration, and be sure to create a fresh password, too.
Teaching your staff safe practices is a low-tech solution to preventing data breaches, but it’s a step that small businesses often overlook. Staff members are often juggling multiple tasks and priorities in their workday — it’s easy for them to forget which data they are allowed to send in an email and what is confidential. Scammers are constantly refining their phishing emails to look like authentic corporate communication and to appeal to your employees’ best instincts; if you’re not constantly reminding them to be cautious, they will inevitably slip up and give away their passwords to your systems. Talk about cyber security often, run fake scams to test your staff regularly, and circulate information about the latest threats.
One way to slow down scammers, including those who successfully phish for your employees’ or customers’ login info is with adaptive authentication, a smart technology that can recognize unusual behaviors, such as a staff member logging in from two different cities within a few minutes’ time. The adaptive authentication system will ask for additional authentication steps any time it perceives an unusual situation. If you are serious about cyber security, you might look into a system like this.
Use a VPN
A Virtual Private Network, or VPN, protects you and your staff when you’re working remotely. The virtual network lets you log into your network through an encrypted tunnel. Your remote computer is then shielded with the firewall and other security systems that your office network uses. A VPN protects the data on your mobile computer, and also protects your network when you connect from insecure public networks in coffee shops or hotels.
Your network doesn’t need to be vulnerable just because your business is small. The same systems that are available to protect big corporations are available in streamlined formats for small businesses as well. Devoting some time to securing your network against cyber attacks is a decision you’ll never regret.