Eight Simple Cyber Security Tips For Small Business Owners

After a series of major cyber security breaches hit some of the worlds largest organisations damaging customer confidence and costing millions. While it’s generally only just large corporations that find their way into the headlines small business is not immune from the dangers of cyber threats. The impact of cyber attacks on small businesses can be devastating, data collected shows that following a data breach almost two thirds of businesses shut down within twelve months.

The most common approach businesses take to combat the threat of a cyber attack is to deploy anti-virus programs and backup data on a regular basis. This is the first step but it is by no means the only one. Below you will find eight simple, inexpensive ways to improve your businesses security.

Use Strong Passwords

Easy to break passwords make breaking into systems easy for even the least skilled hackers. Security experts recommend using a combination of lowercase and uppercase letters, numbers and special characters to create tough passwords that are impossible to guess and difficult to break. The most important step is to regularly change passwords so even if an intruder has managed to sneak into your system there is a limit to how long they can continue to slip in.

Most hackers use advanced software to try thousands and thousands of random passwords until they are able to access your account successfully. With a six letter password containing no capitals, numbers or special characters there are only 309 million combinations. That sounds like a lot but it would take less than 30 seconds for your password to be broken by a skilled intruder. On the other hand a ten digit password using a mixture of character types would take nearly 100 thousand years to try every possible combination.

Password Management Software

Reliable password management software helps create strong passwords and remembers them for you so you only need to remember one password in order to have strong, unique passwords for all systems. There is a downside to password management software, all of your valuable passwords are stored inside the password managers database making a very tempting target for hackers so always ensure the platform you are relying on is secure.

Backup Management

Backing up data should not only be done frequently but effectively. If your backups are stored in a single location then you are suseptable to a single point of failure whether that is a location within your own network or a remote storage location. Data backups are also an easy target for hackers as many businesses focus on protecting their active data but forget to apply the same level of security to their backups. Make sure your data is stored in multiple locations, encrypted and password protected. It is also important to make sure your backup program doesn’t rely on a single snapshot, instead make sure you have multiple backups from different points in time.

Credit Card Details

As tempting as it is to store a customers full credit card details to speed up future purchases but storing this information places all of your customers at risk. If you are intent on storing credit card details don’t store the CVV number, asking customers to import those three or four digits isn’t too much of an imposition if it improves their data security.

Restrict Access

Don’t allow staff to have more access than they absolutely need in order to do their job. If you are employing external technicians to provide services always ensure that they are supervised and remove any temporary accounts required to give them access immediately once they are done.

Monitor staff to ensure they aren’t plugging in USB drives, mobile phones or other personal devices to ensure they aren’t doing anything they shouldn’t be. There is no point to having complex passwords and advanced firewalls if staff are using devices on your network that are already compromised.

Update Software

Don’t ignore software update messages especially from operating systems, anti-virus and online tools. Hackers are always using the latest exploits to breach systems so ignoring software updates makes your network more vulnerable to intrusion.

Network Security

Scan your network regularly for intruders, hide your wireless network so it can’t be seen by anyone scanning for available networks, encrypt the wireless access point and most importantly change the default administrator username and password for all network access points and routers.

Educate Employees

Make sure employees are trained in the importance of cyber security and that they are following company policies regarding password management, network access and online behaviours. Ensure all company policies are well publicised and employees are tested on their knowledge of these policies.

While most skilled hackers focus their attention on breaching the security of large corporations small businesses are not safe their attention and the threat is not small. Nearly half of all cyber attacks are aimed at small business targets. Malware is easily introduced to poorly defended systems to either steal data, control resources for malicious purposes or restrict access to data in order to blackmail business owners. Stay safe online.

To learn more about cyber security listen to the Malicious Life podcast https://malicious.life

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