Businesses are becoming more vulnerable to phishing and ransomware attacks. Therefore, it’s more important than ever to protect your small business from cyberattacks.
The Wall Street Journal recently reported that small businesses are increasingly becoming targets of cyberattacks. Indeed, data breaches at small businesses jumped 152% in 2020 and 2021 compared with the previous two years.
Yet despite the rise in cybercrime in recent years, only 5% of small business owners believe a cyberattack is the biggest threat to their business, according to a recent CNBC|SurveyMonkey Small Business Survey. And since many small businesses don’t believe they’re targets, they fail to make cybersecurity a priority.
Adopting new technologies is paramount when it comes to improving operational efficiencies as well as the customer experience. However, as businesses grow more dependent on digital platforms, it’s important to be aware of the associated threats. In this article, we’re sharing five steps you can take to protect your small business from cyberattacks.
Follow these 5 steps to protect your small business from cyberattacks:
Step #1: Secure Your Network and Devices
A good first step to protect your small business from cyberattacks is to secure your network and any devices connected to it. If left unsecured, your internet connection can be a major threat to your business’s data. Internet users nearby may be able to monitor your online activity, including any sensitive information you share over the network.
To avoid a potential data breach, be sure to use a firewall and encrypt any information sent over your network. If your business accepts online payments, make sure to use a secure payment system (SPS).
Also, make sure your Wi-Fi network is hidden and secure. To hide your network from outside users, you can configure your router to hide the SSID. You should also password-protect access to your router.
In addition, secure physical access to prevent unauthorized individuals from potentially accessing sensitive information. Since laptops are easy targets, consider locking them up when not in use. And be sure to create a separate user account for each employee and require strong passwords. Furthermore, you should only grant administrative privileges to necessary IT support and key personnel.
Lastly, make sure all computers are equipped with antivirus software and antispyware and updated routinely. Since software vendors regularly provide patches and updates to correct security problems and improve functionality, you may want ensure any updates run automatically.
Step #2: Use Strong Passwords
According to a recent survey by SecureAuth, more than half of Americans admit to using the same password across multiple accounts. That means if there’s a data breach on one account, any other account that shares that password is also vulnerable. This can put your business at risk if your employees use weak passwords across their online accounts.
To protect your small business from cyberattacks, be sure to require anyone who can access your network to use strong passwords. In addition, consider turning on two-factor authentication wherever possible, as it requires a second check for users to log into their accounts.
Step #3: Educate Your Employees
Your employees can unintentionally open your business up to data breaches and other cybercrimes. To protect your small business from cyberattacks, it’s important to educate any employees who have access to your network and sensitive data.
First, advise your employees to avoid public Wi-Fi networks. When you access the internet through a public network, your business’s privacy and security are at risk–even when the network is password protected.
Instead, have your employees connect to the internet through a virtual private network (VPN). A VPN allows users to securely connect to public Wi-Fi by encrypting any data they send over the network. If you or your employees work remotely or travel frequently for work, it’s worth investing in a VPN to reduce the risk of cyberattack.
Step #4: Avoid Phishing Scams
About 200,000 new phishing sites crop up each month, according to the Anti-Phishing Working Group. Unfortunately, small businesses that lack necessary security protocols aren’t immune to these types of scams.
To protect your small business from cyberattacks, tell your employees to never click on any suspicious links in an email, especially if they don’t recognize the sender. Instead, have them forward questionable emails to a dedicated email address for further review. They should also know to not share sensitive information like passwords, account numbers, or customer account data over email.
Step #5: Consider Cyber Liability Insurance
Lastly, consider purchasing cyber liability insurance to protect your small business from cyberattacks. Though insurance can’t prevent an attack, it can help defray the high costs associated with one. Indeed, 60% of small businesses fold within six months of a cyberattack, according to the National Cyber Security Alliance.
Cyber liability insurance covers expenses such as customer notification, credit monitoring, legal fees, and fines that typically follow a data breach or malware attack. It can also help pay for investigating and fixing security flaws and loss of business opportunities due to cyberattack.
Protect Your Small Business from Cyberattacks and Secure Your Financial Future
Any risk to your business can be a risk to your financial future. Unfortunately, it’s easy to push cybersecurity down the priority list. However, making the effort to protect your small business from cyberattacks now can help you avoid a potentially devastating setback down the road.
Oak Capital Advisors specializes in financial and retirement planning for small business owners. If you’re looking for a trusted advisor who can help you protect your business from potential risks and secure your financial future, we encourage you to get in touch. Please get started by requesting your complimentary Financial Independence Roadmap™.