Businesses of any size will need to collect and store data during the course of normal business operations. This may include customer information, employee data and business financial information. But knowing how to protect business data from hackers can seem like a huge task. Here we will give you a few simple steps you can take today to protect your business from bad actors tomorrow, and beyond.
Some businesses may have the expertise in-house to implement a data security plan. Others may choose to hire a contractor for this. Regardless of the size of your business, these tips will go a long way in helping you to secure your data.
10 Cybersecurity Tips for Small Businesses
1. Take inventory of what you have.
Create a list of the devices, software and apps you have, the information you collect and where it is housed. Having a secure tech stack should be a top priority in protecting both your business data and your customer data.
2. Scale down.
If it isn’t essential, don’t keep it, maintain it or store it. Holding on to devices or collecting unnecessary data can increase your risk of data breaches and hackers.
3. Keep it clean.
Having the latest security software, web browsers and operating systems are the best defense against viruses, malware and other online threats. Set antivirus software to run a scan after each update. Implement automatic updates as soon as they are available to keep things running efficiently and to ensure you have the most current security patches.
4. Limit access.
Do not provide any one employee with access to all data systems. Employees should only be given access to the specific data systems that they need for their jobs and should not be able to install any software without permission.
5. Train employees on security best practices.
Establish basic security practices and policies for employees and outline rules of behavior describing how to handle and protect customer information and other vital business data.
6. Backup your data.
Regularly backup the data on all computers. Critical data includes word processing documents, electronic spreadsheets, databases, financial files, human resources files and accounts receivable/payable files. Backup data automatically if possible, or at least weekly and store the copies either offsite or in the cloud.
7. Secure your Wi-Fi networks.
If you have a Wi-Fi network for your workplace, make sure it is secure, encrypted and hidden. To hide your Wi-Fi network, set up your wireless access point or router, so it does not broadcast the network name, known as the Service Set Identifier (SSID). In addition, always password protect access to the router.
8. Use strong passwords and enable multi factor authentication.
Require employees to use strong passwords and implement multi-factor authentication. Check with your vendors that handle sensitive data, especially financial institutions, to see if they offer multi-factor authentication for your accounts. Consider implementing an enterprise solution for password management—like a password manager—to assist your employees with creating and maintaining passwords for each account.
9. Create a mobile device action plan.
Mobile devices can create significant security and management challenges, especially if they hold confidential information or can access the corporate network. Require users to password-protect their devices, encrypt their data and install security apps to prevent criminals from stealing information while the phone is on public networks. Be sure to implement reporting procedures for lost or stolen equipment.
10. Employ best practices on payment cards.
Work with banks or processors to ensure the most trusted and validated tools and anti-fraud services are being used. You may also have additional security obligations pursuant to agreements with your bank or processor. Isolate payment systems from other, less secure programs.
U.S. Government Resources
Cybersecurity is one of the most serious economic and national security challenges we face as a nation. Please find additional resources below that are available to you to reduce your risk of potential cybersecurity threats.