Starting a Business in this technologically-driven age can be a challenge. Even though moving online has made managing business easier, it has also exposed businesses to threats, like hackers. Digital spaces are a cybercriminal's hub, with businesses being their favourite target.
A hacker will spare no time in discriminating between a new business or an established business and would attack regardless of the size of the business given the opportunity. A successful cyberattack will lose you significant money. Small businesses, already strapped for capital, might find it harder to recover from such an attack.
A cybercriminal may cost a business over $3 million annually. Many large companies also stand to lose more than $30 per minute when a breach occurs. Hackers use different techniques to carry out their crimes, including phishing, launching malware, identity fraud, and crypto-jacking.
As a small business owner, you cannot afford to be in such a precarious position. Therefore, we have compiled the following list of tips for you to Secure your small business right now:
1. Know What Your Company Needs
Cybersecurity is a multifaceted process. You need to establish security at different levels to ensure your company's data is protected.
These measures would include checking and testing possible vulnerabilities, foolproofing your software system, and using a secure firewall. Since you will be needing to ensure security throughout your operations, you should always set up good security systems right from the start.
Organizations need experts to pull off a detailed cybersecurity defence that is beyond the ordinary capabilities of the technical staff. These trained experts credentialed in the best degree for cyber security know what it takes to make a foolproof security system.
2. Secure All Your Devices
Every new device you set up in your business has to be secured. A brand-new operating system, with no securitization in place, is vulnerable to cyber viruses. The three most common types of malware are Trojan horses, worms, and viruses.
When malware enters your network, it corrupts the data present on the system. Your best line of defence against malware is to install and enable anti-malware software right away. Fortunately for you, the device you purchase comes with a built-in security feature that you need to activate.
Additional measures also include never downloading from an unprotected website online, using weak torrents, or jailbreaking your gadget. Every program you want on your desktop should come from the operating system's designated application store.
You should also ensure you make timely updates to the software and run a patch scan. This ensures that you remove all vantage points from which a hacker can sneak into your network.
3. Use VPN
If you started your business in or after 2020, it is most likely that you have remote work in place. Owing to the pandemic, most enterprises have been forced to shift employees from working at the office to working remotely.
So, if your business is anything like the others that have had to adjust to the changes brought about by the pandemic, then you may have the same policy in place. This necessitates the need for having a dedicated VPN for your business, so that information sent across remote channels cannot be compromised.
The VPN industry is flourishing and will reach a booming $30 billion in the next few months.
VPN is a virtual private network that creates an encrypted connection between the user's device and other devices it connects to. So, if your employees are working from home, a VPN will ensure that no matter from where they get connected, a hacker will not get access to their IP addresses. This prevents cybercriminals from connecting to your employee's device and extracting data.
There are also two types of VPN services. A remote-access VPN lets you create a connection between remote users. For example, if your employee wants to access an application on your business's network. The other is a site-to-site VPN in which a virtual network gets shared across multiple users. You should get a VPN service that serves your business needs.
4. Use A Cloud Server
When backing up data, Cloud servers are the best. Cloud computing is the process by which you store and act on data over the Internet, instead of on local hard drives on each individual system. Not only is this safe, but your data also gets encrypted and protected by a two-factor authentication which doesn't allow access to unauthorized users easily.
Brand new technological products, like the MacBook, come with a built-in cloud server called iCloud. Cloud computing also makes storage much more convenient for you by providing an option to adjust the number of Gigabytes (GB) to suit the needs of your business.
A cloud server also makes work much more flexible. Cloud storage is accessible by multiple devices, so if you are someone who works from more than one device at a time, you can easily make the switch without losing any data or having to transfer any data from one device to the other.
5. Choose A Secure E-Commerce Platform
Cybercriminals are not only after your business but also your customers. You should protect your consumer data with as much effort as you would put into securing your own business data.
When setting up your business, you should use a secure e-commerce platform, like Shopify, which keeps data encrypted and protected. These platforms also provide you with the two-factor authentication feature, which you can enable for your business's page. This ensures that every time a consumer logs in, their identity is verified and that no unauthorized person can gain access to somebody else’s profile.
You should ensure that a third-party transaction partner, i.e., a bank, handles the payments. So, when the consumer is ready to make a purchase, a pop-up window should redirect them to a secure page. You can also create a website for your business if you want an autonomous e-commerce platform.
However, website building can be a tedious process, requiring you to make adjustments as you go. It will require you to run several security tests before you are ready to go online. One of the safety features you should consider is getting an SSL certificate that authenticates your website's identity and locks your URL from getting stolen.
6. Have a Contingency Plan
No matter how many precautions you take, sometimes a cyberattack will occur despite your best-laid plans. Over 40% of security professionals say that cybercriminals can gain access to a company even with the firewalls in place.
Therefore, having a contingency plan is the right way to go about it. These should include data deletion, recovery plans, and shutting down the central server in case of a cyberattack. If you receive a notification telling you that your data has been compromised, you should be able to delete the corrupted files, shut down the main power to prevent the attack from compromising more files or simply unplug the device. With the cloud, you will be able to recover your data by logging in from a new, secured device.
If you can afford a secondary firewall, make sure you keep it active and use it in times of crisis. In case of a breach occurring, you will also need to change all the passwords and usernames and limit access to your database. If you don't have a contingency plan from the get-go, you can inadvertently expose your business to risks.
Data protection should be a part of your business strategy. If your data gets compromised, your business not only loses money but also its reputation. As a small business, there are opportunities for you to explore when it comes to protection, which will ensure that you maintain your company’s integrity. Data protection is an iterative process, requiring you to install a firewall, shift data onto the cloud, and provide your employees with a VPN. You should also find a secure platform that enables third-party transactions. Your business should also have contingency plans in place to prevent breaches from taking place.
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