cyberattack

Cybersecurity changes must be driven by senior management. Source: Shutterstock

You don’t have to be a cybersecurity expert to protect your small business

IF there is one major takeaway from 2017, it is that no company – of any size – can hide from the wrath of cyber attacks or fail to take cybersecurity seriously.

In fact, approximately 43 percent of all cyberattacks focus on small businesses. Why? Because they are big enough to be deemed valuable to attackers, but also small enough to be vulnerable.

Alarmingly, according to the National Cyber Security Alliance, up to 60 percent of SMEs that were subject to cyberattacks went out of business within six months.

With these findings in mind, it is clear that investments in cybersecurity aren’t simply crucial – they are necessary.

And inexperienced entrepreneurs needn’t feel intimidated by the prospect; there are plenty of amateur-friendly tools and procedures available to ensure vulnerable systems are buttressed and safe from attackers.

Password tools

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In your business, passwords are one of the biggest points of vulnerability. According to Deloitte, a whopping 90 percent of passwords are considered weak enough to be vulnerable to hacking.

Perhaps one of the simplest yet effective ways of preventing cybercrime is to create strong passwords which you change often.

A security tool such as 1Password is a centralized and secure password management tool which allows users to store various passwords and software licences as well as other sensitive information in a “virtual vault”.

Antivirus software

Though antivirus software alone is not enough to fight off cyber attacks, it will alert you of any malware infections and potential threats. Fortunately, there are many free but legal and professional-quality antivirus software available for individuals, such as Malwarebytes and AVG Technologies.

VPN

Employing a virtual private network (VPN) allows you to encrypt your network, ensuring you have no outside forces spying in. Tools such as SaferVPN are especially useful if you have multiple users on multiple devices.

Firewall

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Another great tool for ensuring optimum cybersecurity is a firewall. This will monitor your incoming and outgoing traffic, filter out any threats and block dangerous sites. Though a firewall alone will not protect you from every threat, it is an added layer of protection your company should not be without.

Hardware upgrades

Though less expensive, older hardware poses much greater security risks due to older software. If possible, you should ensure you upgrade your hardware routinely every few years.

Shirley Inscoe, senior analyst at Aite Group, a research, consulting and analytics firm in Boston, told Bank Rate: “Consumers who use old devices may feel they are saving money, but at what cost? For all consumers who shop or bank online, security should be top of mind. In most cases, newer technology will provide highly-improved security.”

Improved software

Your company will need to pay attention to the kind of software you use for things such as data storage and project management. Put in your research and select only the vendors you feel you can trust, with a history of protecting customers’ data.

Education

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Last but not least comes the importance of educational tools. In order to keep up the best practices of cybersecurity, each member of staff should be educated on new updates and the importance of habits such as regularly changing passwords, and knowing how to spot things such as phishing emails.





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