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7 Cybersecurity Tips for Small Businesses

When you think about security, what sort of images come to mind? Chances are you picture locks, keys, bars, cameras, and maybe even armed guards or police patrolling to keep criminals away. But what would you say if we told you that security in the form of firewalls, passwords, and encryption may be just as important?

Cybersecurity is one of the major issues small business owners today must tackle. Read on to discover some best practice cybersecurity tips that will help to keep your business safe from digital attacks.

1) Set Strong Passwords

It should come as no surprise that our first cybersecurity tip involves passwords. Setting strong passwords is an important part of good cybersecurity. Passwords are a simple way to help ensure that no unauthorized person gets access to your systems or information. Setting strong passwords reduces the chance of an attacker “brute-forcing” or automated-guessing of your credentials to access your data or that of your customers.

If possible, it’s best to consider setting up multi-factor authentication. This security measure involves requiring both username and password and another piece of authenticating information to log in. This could include temporary passcodes, biometric identifiers (fingerprint or facial recognition), or even more advanced methods.

2) Set up Firewalls

Set up or enable firewalls that may already be on your computers, routers, or modems. Sometimes 3rd party technicians turn them off while working on your network, but forget to turn them back on. This, of course, depends on the size and complexity of your business. Medium and larger businesses usually have separate firewall appliances. You can set up security rules that determine which users and sites your system trusts and block information from outside sources. They also can help keep your computer network secure in other ways.

3) Train Your Employees

On the subject of employees, your company is only as secure as your weakest link. You can have all the security measures in the world in place, but if an employee falls for a scam, downloads a bad file, or clicks on a bad link, your company may be left vulnerable. Training your employees to recognize security threats is an important part of cybersecurity.

Hold regular training for your employees about security threats and how to spot them. Teach them about phishing scams, ransomware attacks, and other such schemes. Train them to never download anything from a source they don’t specifically trust to avoid bringing viruses into your system. If you need help, Wind River Financial can provide training for your employees a reasonably-priced fee.

4) Run Software Updates

Every day, attackers and malware developers find new ways to circumvent security measures. One of the best cybersecurity tips your business can take to improve your cybersecurity is to run software updates regularly.

Many software updates address new security concerns. These are for both your operating system as well as 3rd party software. By keeping your software up to date, you are helping to ensure that you have protection against the latest viruses.

5) Back-Up Everything

Ransomware schemes are one of the most malicious forms of malware a business can encounter. These attacks take your files hostage, locking away your access to them and demanding money to release them. Ransomware attacks can be very costly, and there are no guarantees that you will regain access to your data – or that the attacker won’t come back.

It’s important to regularly back up all of your files. This should include multi-faceted backups to help thwart ransomware that waits to run in hopes of getting into your backups. Professionals can be consulted as to how to best configure your backup strategy.

6) Check Out Third Parties

In some cases, your business may have to work with a third-party provider for your software needs. In most cases, these providers are legitimate companies. However, there are some that are not so savory. In addition, if they need access to your computer network to conduct bookkeeping or other services, you need to confirm they doing so in a secure way.

It’s important to conduct due diligence when reviewing third-party party providers. There’s a lot involved with properly vetting your vendors. If you guidance or any assistance, please just drop me an email.

7) Encryption

Encrypting sensitive data is a great cybersecurity tip and an important business practice and may be required either by regulation or by operating rules for your industry. This applies not only to sensitive data that you store, but also to data that you must transmit – such as by email.

Know and understand where your most important data resides. This is data for which your business may not be able to continue operating without. This includes the most sensitive data such as customer identifying information or perhaps trade secrets and intellectual property. Proper encryption practices will allow your business to access and use the data without impact while helping ensure that if the data is compromised, it is unreadable to those that are not authorized.

An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure

In today’s digital world, having good cybersecurity measures is as important as having a lock on the door of your business – if not more so. Anything a criminal can steal in your business is likely replaceable with an insurance claim. The exception is your reputation. Few things can damage your reputation faster than a data breach. Just as risk cannot be outsourced, neither can your business’s reputation.

We know that running your business is your priority. If you do not have internal resources to manage cybersecurity for you, it’s important to find third-party resources that can help you. It’s a cost of doing business in today’s world.

Lastly, your payment provider should be just as concerned about security as you are. If they’re not keeping you informed of the latest threats and data theft tactics, your security may not be that important to them. If that’s the case, it might be time to consider a new payment partner. Take our assessment today and discover if your current payment processing relationship is healthy and safe for your company.

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