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Tips for Keeping Your Small Business Data Safe

Data is the new oil, and even small businesses have access to valuable data that cyber attackers would love to steal. While hackers can attack your network directly, they also like to make use of poor staff security practices to infiltrate companies databases. So far in 2021, 74% of organizations experienced a malware attack directly linked to an employee device or action. Let’s explore a few steps you can take today to keep your small business data safe and secure.

1. Write up a strategy

Write up a strategy, detailing who is responsible in the event of a cyber-attack, and what each employee must do in that situation. Cover all elements of cyber security in this strategy, including setting password guidelines and training for employees on network security risks and best practices. A plan will go a long way when an attack occurs and you have only seconds to react, or lose all your valuable data.

2. Protect against malware

Malware is “malicious” software like viruses or spyware, designed to install itself on a computer or within a network, and infect, encrypt or steal data. Malware has many creative ways of entering a network including USB, email, malicious links, fake websites or simply hidden within the computer or device of an employee. Deploy security software designed to seek out these types of programs and contain them, before they can cause serious system issues or data theft.

3. Secure your wireless network

The best way to keep your wireless network secure is to deploy security software and hardware to manage all threats. Consider deploying a next generation firewall to put a protective boundary around your network, or use a secure web gateway (SWG), to ensure all users and devices must log in and be registered with your IT department before they can use your network.

4. Safeguard passwords

Inform employees of the importance of creating complex passwords, perhaps incorporating a phrase, name or series of numbers and symbols. Train them to use password manager software to keep track of their passwords, and encourage them to avoid writing down their passwords on paper or in computer documents, which can be easily accessed using backing hacking techniques.

5. Personal device plan

You must plan for the safety and security of employee personal devices. Take the time to set up a plan for the safe use of personal devices, outlining safe browsing and password policies. Ensure that employees are aware of the types of sites that are unsafe for work, or deploy software to block these sites from the business network.

6. Automatic software updates

Software updates come with something called “patches,” designed to fix any badly written code within the program that may allow hackers a chance to enter the network. When you update your software, you “patch” any vulnerabilities in your network against future attack. Encourage your employees to update every time one becomes available, to keep both their personal devices and your network free of security gaps and coding vulnerabilities.

7. Conduct background checks

Insider threat is a major issue facing many companies in 2021, and in the last two years the number of insider threat incidents has increased by 47%. Insider theft is just one thing you can help mitigate by doing background checks on all new employees. Hacking rings and cyber criminal gangs are getting more sophisticated, including deploying spies to be hired, infiltrate companies, and steal their data for future elicit sale.

8. Dispose of data properly

Stored business data, or data at rest can put a target on your back, for cyber criminals hoping to exfiltrate data for future sale on the dark web. Businesses often have mountains of unused or old data pertaining to sales, customers or products, all of which is very valuable to cyber attackers. It’s critical to clean out your data regularly to ensure you are only saving and storing the most important elements.

9. Use the cloud

Businesses who use the cloud for data and storage find that their information is better protected, yet easier to access. Some companies are turning to the cloud to enable discrete manufacturing, the process of connecting operations teams, engineers and other specialists to the same network, ensuring they all receive the most up-to-date and critical data, to do their jobs effectively without communication issues. Deploying a cloud means less critical data is stored on staff computers or devices, which can be stolen or hacked easily, once the device has logged onto an unsafe public network.

Completely preventable network security issues have sunk many businesses, from the largest enterprises to the smallest local shops. Although you can’t eliminate the possibility of data breach entirely, following these steps will take you vastly closer to the total data protection you’ll need for success in 2021.

Meet The Author:

Nick Rojas

Nick Rojas

Nick Andrew Rojas is a business consultant turned journalist who loves working with small and medium-sized companies. He has contributed to many publications such as Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, and Yahoo. In his spare time, he hangs out at the beach with his dog Presto.

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