If you think that your small business is immune from hacking, think again. Small companies are especially vulnerable if they have limited resources for protective measures. They appeal to cybercriminals who view them as indirect entry points to other resources. Here are some critical steps a small business must take to keep hackers at bay.
1. Create Awareness
Knowing what cybercriminals hope to gain is the first step toward defending against attacks. Often, cybercrime targets Client Relationship Management software (CRM). The best CRM for small business usage enables the storage of detailed information about larger companies or individuals critical for growth. This quality makes these systems particularly vulnerable to hackers. It is necessary to train employees to recognize the following threats to CRM software.
- Phishing – Cybercriminals will send fraudulent emails or text messages, purporting to be trustworthy, hoping that employees will open them and provide confidential information in a response.
- Malware – The use of malicious software or Malware programs that embed code into a business’s browser or website pages is a common tactic cybercriminals use to steal login credentials. These highly developed cybertheft tools are challenging to combat.
- Denial of service – By instigating system errors or overloading IT’s data capacity, cybercriminals can withhold a business’s access to vital information until it pays for its release.
- Ransomware – This type of attack takes denial of service a step further by keeping businesses from accessing their data and threatening to publicize confidential information unless they pay a ransom fee.
- Zero-Day attacks – Developers often release new software with unknown kinks that can pose security threats. Cybercriminals can exploit this information gap by creating malware programs that detect and target software vulnerabilities before programmers discover and address them.
2. Perform Backups
An attack may create an inconvenience, but it will not cripple a business if data backups happen regularly.
3. Outsource IT Support
It is often not feasible or necessary for small businesses to hire full-time IT professionals. A better solution is to outsource IT and cybersecurity functions which typically don’t require full-time management. Offsite IT services can enhance cybersecurity with remote surveillance methods that can offer insights about deficiencies. They also make valuable suggestions based on results obtained from working with multiple companies.
4. Purchase Patch Software
Software programs are significant investments for small businesses. Repurchasing them to keep up with changes or updates is usually not an option. Instead, patch management software is an affordable and reliable option to correct, update and secure existing software, making it difficult for cybercriminals to exploit any inherent vulnerabilities.
5. Discard Old Accounts
Employees may come and go, and so should their user names and passwords. It is necessary to deactivate former employees’ accounts to prevent cybercriminals from discovering and using them to gain company access.
6. Change Passwords
Seasoned cybercriminals can quickly obtain login credentials when employees use predictable options or set up automatic logins on their computers. Requiring all employees to create complex passwords that they change regularly and adequately log in and out of their accounts is a simple way to deter cybercriminals.
7. Protect Remote Devices
Today, more than ever, remote work is a necessity rather than a perk. Private wifi networks lack the security of business networks, making it especially easy for cybercriminals to infiltrate them. Providing employees with mobile devices that contain encrypted hard drives or establishing cloud-based storage and virtual private networks will enhance cybersecurity in remote work settings.
8. Restrict Employee Access
Whether your business is running from its brick and mortar environment or has switched to a remote format, you can minimize the risk for data breaches by reducing access to critical information to a need-to-know basis. Restricting administrative privileges to the minimum access necessary for employees to perform their job functions, allows small businesses to create significant roadblocks for cybercriminals.
As remote work environments increase business’s susceptibility to cyber theft methods, small businesses must have strict security protocols in place to prevent irreversible damage.