It doesn't matter what kind of business you run; in this day and age, all businesses need to be thinking about cyber security. Whatever you do, you probably either have some form of web presence, or you store valuable data digitally. In either of these cases, you could be vulnerable to cyber attacks. An estimated 2,000 cyber attacks
happen every day, and small businesses are often a target precisely because their owners didn't think they had to worry about their cyber security.
Ok, that was the bad news. Now the good news: even if you can hardly work a computer, you don't have to worry. It's surprisingly simple, easy, and fast to take a few steps that will really help prevent glaring vulnerabilities in your company's' cyber security. We're not saying these steps are all you'll ever need to protect your data, but it's a great start.
Use Two-Step Verification
Two-step verification prevents would-be hackers from accessing your personal and business accounts, even if they've stolen your password. Two-step verification basically makes you perform another identifying action after putting in your password. Usually, after you put in your password, your two-step verification system sends a text message to a phone number you programmed into it. This text message contains a unique, randomly generated code which you input in order to move on.
Two-step verification has become a standard for most big software services, including Google, Microsoft, and Apple. It takes a minute to install and takes less time to use than you'd think. It also foils a ton of the most common, opportunistic cyber attacks. Two-step verification is one of the best ways to keep trouble away from your precious work.
Keep Backups of All Data
If you store all your data in one place, then if that place breaks down or gets hacked, you risk losing everything. A backup is a digital copy of original data to be used to recover work in case of disaster. If you lose your data, you have a backup. Most modern software programs have the means to automatically backup whatever data you tell it to, but you can also simply copy document-by-document if you're so inclined, or if you only want to backup some data.
Once you've made the backup, it's important that you keep the data created on either a flash drive or an external hard drive. Do not keep your backup on the same data storage device that houses the original copy - that would defeat the purpose of the backup! If you've saved everything on another disk elsewhere, then if your hard drive blows and all the data is irretrievable, you're not totally out of luck.
Keep Up-to-Date Antivirus Software
Everyone likes to whine about constant antivirus software updates slowing down their computer, but there's a good reason for them. Antivirus software developers need to constantly update in order to address structural weaknesses based on data collected by usage, add new features to counter progressions in common viruses, and to generally improve antivirus efficiency.
First thing's first: your business should definitely have antivirus technology. Do some research to find the right one for your size and needs, or contact an expert for help. Once you've installed the software, set up auto-updates and make sure they're happening. Failing to regularly update your antivirus software will make it ineffective, opening you up to possible cyber attack.
Educate Employees on the Importance of Smart Web Navigation
This is probably the most important thing you can do for your cybersecurity. Most employees probably don't think much about how they might be compromising their company's cybersecurity. That's bad.
Schedule some time to talk about the basic things every employee should do to keep company data safe. Make sure all employees know:
- To never share their passwords
- Use two-step verification for work computer log-in and all relevant business software log-in
- Change your password at least once every 3 months
- Don't open unexpected emails from strangers
- Especially don't open email with an unexpected attachment. Even if the attachment is from a co-worker, confirm they really sent it before downloading.
- Keep backups of all work. Store that backup in a different data storage unit than where the original is housed.
- Backup your data is often as possible.
- Update virus software.
- Stay off of potentially dangerous sites. Always heed warnings.
- Do not stream or download anything on your work computer unless you're sure the source is legitimate and secure.
- Avoid unsecured websites whenever possible.
- Turn off work computers before leaving at the end of the day.
- Know where data is kept. Immediately report any misplaced or missing data.
- Do not share company hardware or software with outside people.
In the modern era of small business ownership, cyber security should be as normal and routine as regular security. If you get in the habit of thinking about it now, you might just save yourself a lot of stress and heartache in the future.
Have more IT-related questions? Schedule an appointment with Coordinated
to either talk about order our full IT management service
. We can handle the technical stuff so you can get back to what you do best: running your business.