Joe owns a small business. His days are jam-packed but lately Joe has started to worry cyberattacks. Small business security for information technology (IT) isn’t simple but there are some easy ways to get started.
Below are starting points for Joe (and anyone else) to increase their small business security.
Imagine walking into work one day, taking a sip of your coffee and logging-in to your computer. Everything looks different. Your e-mail isn’t there and all of the data on your server is gone. Client files, business records, accounting documents: no where to be found. Even your logo is missing.
What happens next? Someone will reach out and demand a ransom, typically tens of thousands of dollars. The longer you wait, the higher the cost escalates. Paying the ransom seems like the only option but what if the data isn’t released? Perhaps you can move forward with only what you have on hand?
In either case, sensitive information will be exposed to a dangerous third party with malicious motives. A situation like this will severely impact the reputation of your small business. You don’t want to see this on the front-page news.
Cyberattacks affect everyone, not just big business. Small business security is typically be minimal and makes small businesses an easy target for all types of attacks, including ransomware. For this reason, small business security isn’t something you should overlook. To start off, the four steps below are a great way to begin the process of securing any business.
1. Update Antivirus Software
Antivirus programs isolate malware on a network, including ransomware. All devices should have a current, updated and reputable antivirus program on them.
There are a lot of options on the market so aim to find a balance between cost, user experience and effectiveness. While there are discounted offerings out there, in our experience it is worthwhile to invest in a more expensive product that doesn’t slow down your computer and best protects your network. Antivirus product selection should be reviewed annually, identifying a solution that has high detection rates and low false positives.
2. Implement a Comprehensive Backup Solution
Secondly, make sure your small business has at least two backup strategies in place to keep important files safe – a hard drive that is offline and off-site as well as a cloud solution that backs-up daily. The goal is to be able to quickly and easily get your office running again if faced with a worst-case scenario.
First of all, create three or more off-line backup drives to rotate through weekly. Because a a virus might “hide out” on your network for a period of time before attacking, having older copies of data can save the day. In addition, taking these external hard drives will provide an easy and fast way to restore the core of your data, whether you are hit with a ransomware attack, hardware malfunction or building fire.
When it comes to a cloud solution, pick something that is easy on your staff so it gets used. When it comes to cost, products that are priced per user (Office 365, G-Suite and Dropbox) tend to be affordable for a small team.
3. Educate Your Users
Your employees are crucial to the security of your small business. Therefore, it is important to make sure staff is trained on what they should avoid doing while connected to the internet. You can incorporate tips into staff meetings, send a monthly e-mail or create a unique strategy that makes sense within your office. End-user best practice discussions are a crucial part of any small business security plan.
In addition, it is always wise to give your users the least amount of permissions necessary to do their job. Preventing staff from installing a program might sound harsh but it can also prevent a virus from getting onto your network.
4. Strong Network Security
These days, all business access the internet. Therefore, strong perimeter/network security is a must. An off-the-shelf solution isn’t always the best solution. Almost always, these products prove to be unreliable, especially when not well maintained. Because of this, we highly recommend working with an experienced information technology professional, whether on staff or outsourced, to ensure your small business is secure.
Taking these steps are just the start to small business security. Instead, consider this the first part of a larger plan. Every small business should develop and enforce a comprehensive Network Security Policy. Invest time to create a thorough cybersecurity strategy. The effort will be worth it because it isn’t a question of if you will be attacked but when.