Cybersecurity for Small and Mid-Size Enterprises (SME’s)
Cybersecurity, or Information Technology Security, is the protection of electronic data, hardware, software, systems, and networks from theft or damage. For SME businesses, information technology is a powerful tool in reaching new markets and increasing productivity and efficiency. The continuously expanding reliance on computer systems, the internet, and wireless network standards, such as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, makes electronic data more vulnerable for exploitation.
Therefore, it’s recommended that organizations remain vigilant and take time to ensure they’re engaged in cyber defense best practices, including increased monitoring of network logs, reminding employees to practice phishing awareness, and ensuring servers and critical systems are patched for all known security issues.
5 Key Cybersecurity Tips for Small Businesses
1. Ensure security principles awareness and password protection.
Strong passwords and established appropriate internet use guidelines should be given to employees. Training on how to handle and protect customer information and other company data should be provided on a regular basis. One of the most common ways for cyber threat actors to gain access to information systems is by guessing passwords. To combat this, it’s a good idea to require employees to use unique passwords and change them every three months. Additionally, consider implementing multifactor authentication that requires additional information beyond a password to gain entry. You may also introduce penalties in cases of non-compliance with the established security policies.
2. Protect electronic information and infrastructure.
Malicious software is designed to infiltrate or damage a computer system. The latest security software, web browsers, and operating systems are the best defenses against viruses, malware, and other online threats. If mobile devices hold confidential information, install security apps to prevent data theft while the phone is on public networks. If employees work from home, ensure their home systems are protected by a firewall. If you have a Wi-Fi network for your workplace, make sure it’s secure, encrypted, and hidden.
3. Commit to updates, upgrades, and data backups.
Though commonly underestimated, one of the best strategies you can use to improve your business’s cybersecurity is to commit to regularly updating and upgrading the technological tools you use. Too many businesses fall behind on their device and software updates, rendering them vulnerable to attack. Additionally, it’s always a good idea to have multiple backups of your business’s data. That way, if you’re ever the victim of a ransomware attack, a natural disaster, or some other event that restricts your ability to access your data, you have a backup plan. Some backups are done automatically, but you can also perform manual backups on a regular basis and store the copies either off site or in the cloud.
4. Control data and infrastructure access.
Prevent access or use of business computers by unauthorized individuals. Laptops can be particularly easy targets for theft or can be lost, so lock them up when unattended. Make sure a separate user account is created for each employee and require strong passwords. Administrative privileges should only be given to trusted IT staff and key personnel. Do not provide any one employee with access to all data systems. Employees should only be given access to the specific data systems they need for their jobs, and should not be able to install any software without permission.
5. Secure portable media.
Portable media (e.g., portable hard drives, USB flash drives, memory cards, etc.) provide users with the flexibility to easily move data between devices or locations. However, such a benefit can quickly turn into a nightmare when portable media are lost, stolen, or compromised by malware. You should encrypt information that’s stored on portable media. While encryption will not help recover lost devices, it will prevent the exposure of sensitive information to unauthorized individuals.Making the Investment
People usually think the most prominent targets for hackers are government organizations and large businesses. Although those are highly lucrative targets, they have strict cybersecurity protocols to get past. Hackers attack SME businesses due to their low defensive protocols, and they are constantly changing their tactics and learning new techniques to catch small business owners off guard. Cybersecurity is a proactive strategy; you have to make the investment before something happens to your business. The best time to get started is right now.