Small businesses are increasingly encouraged to step up digital efforts — and for good reason. But while investing in a digital reach and digital tools can boost your bottom line, it can also make your business vulnerable to cyber attacks. Big businesses aren’t the only ones attracting hackers — and small businesses with smaller budgets for cybersecurity can be more vulnerable. A recent report suggests that cyber attacks against small businesses are on the rise.
So what can small businesses do to protect their companies and customers from hacks? Here are five things small business owners can do to prevent cyber attacks.
Download a good antivirus software on all computers and mobile devices.
Protecting your small business starts by making it not worth the extra effort for hackers to get in, under any guise. Make sure your office devices use an antivirus software. Look for a software that helps protect against viruses, ransomware and malware. Anti-virus is a small investment that can help protect your company from expensive cyber threats in the future.
Don’t forget to protect your mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets, with antivirus apps designed for your device. And before investing in any smart device that’s connected to the internet, consider if the smart convenience is really worth it and make sure the device has security measures in place as well.
Use a firewall to prevent data theft.
Firewalls limit the ways in which your internet connection can send data — which also helps keep data more secure against hacks. Firewalls can be software or a device that you install on your internet line — and for the most protection, small businesses can use both. Hiring a professional to set up the firewall is often the best route.
Use two-factor authentication and be wary of any email links.
Phishing schemes aren’t always targeted to individuals — because why get into an individual’s bank account when you can get into a businesses? To avoid phishing, use caution whenever clicking on a link in your inbox. Phishing attempts look like they are coming from a legitimate company but instead send you to a site where you unintentionally give away your data. Always check the full sender address before clicking on a link. Anytime you need to type in sensitive information, go directly to the url yourself instead of using an email link.
Keep customer data encrypted and use an SSL security certificate.
Online stores save data like payment information for later — and hackers might target that information instead of yours. Make sure you use software that encrypts any customer data — check your current software to ensure that customer data is encrypted.
An SSL security certificate is also a must for any small business completing transactions online. An SSL is an extra layer of protection that protects credit card information — and many web browsers will now warn customers if they are trying to buy something from a website that doesn’t have a valid SSL. Besides protecting customer data, using an SSL will help customers feel more confident when buying from you online.
Make a cybersecurity plan for your entire small business.
Chances are, your small business isn’t just you. Make a plan so employees know the best practices for keeping data safe. For example, this plan should tell employees to install software updates every so often, since updates often include patches to correct vulnerabilities. Your plan can also include a guideline on changing passwords often and whether employees are allowed to use flash drives or connect to a personal social or chat network.