It’s easy to think that since you have a small business, cybercriminals won’t bother targeting your modest assets. The “not a lot to steal” mindset is common among small-business owners, but it’s incorrect and out of sync with the current cybercrime landscape — nearly half of all cyberattacks are committed against small businesses.
So why are small businesses big targets for cybercriminals? While larger enterprises have more data to steal, small companies have less secure networks that are easier to breach using automated attacks. With such attacks, cybercriminals can penetrate thousands of small businesses and even gain entry into the networks of larger companies their victims do business with.
The following are 15 cybersecurity best practices that can help protect your business network from malicious hackers.
1. Conduct regular security and network assessments
Regularly check for gaps and vulnerabilities. Have a set schedule for performing network and security scans, reviewing access controls, and even assessing your facility’s physical security (e.g., if your alarm or fire detection systems are working). These assessments must also encompass open ports, disk space, software, hardware, as well as licenses.
Doing such will keep your network and equipment updated, stable, and safe from threats.
2. Be wary of spam emails
One way malware can get into your network is through malicious spam or phishing emails. Although it’s easy to assume that your employees already know how to spot scams, phishing emails are becoming harder to recognize.
If your employees do click on a malware-ridden email, a reliable anti-malware software can detect and remove these threats from your systems. What’s more, it cleans up any damage the malware may have caused.
3. Enforce safe password practices
The Verizon 2019 Data Breach Investigations Report found that 80% of hacking-related breaches involved lost, stolen, and weak credentials. To prevent your company from becoming part of this statistic, require employees to use unique passwords that combine upper- and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. It’s also essential to change passwords every two to three months.
4. Implement and regularly conduct security awareness training
The simplest way to prevent cyberattacks is through user education. Since your employees are the ones primarily handling your data, it’s vital that they’re trained on your company’s security policies. Establish and clearly communicate basic device and data handling guidelines as well as penalties for violating company cybersecurity policies.
You can download this infographic to help you get started on your security awareness.
5. Keep software up to date
Software updates often contain essential changes to fix or improve the performance and stability of applications as well as remove outdated features. These improvements include critical patches to security vulnerabilities, which ensure protection from the latest known attacks. It’s recommended to enable automatic updates so these fixes are deployed as they are released.
6. Perform routine backups
If your business does fall victim to a cyberattack, backups will act as your last line of defense. Having an up-to-date backup means you can quickly restart your company’s archive in the event of data loss. This is why it’s important to regularly back up multiple copies of critical data — such as databases and financial and human resources files — on local storage devices or in the cloud. It’s equally important to check your backups regularly to ensure they’re working correctly.
If you are uncertain that your backups are not working properly, we encourage you to take the first step to ensuring they are — get a FREE cybersecurity assessment now.
7. Employ Advanced Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR)
EDR detects and investigates suspicious activities on your company network and devices. This security solution employs a high degree of automation that enables your IT staff to quickly identify and respond to threats. What’s great is that the latest EDR technologies can protect against fileless and script-based threats and even roll back ransomware attacks.
8. Use Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)
Enabling MFA settings on most major networks and email services is simple to do, and doing so provides an additional layer of security. MFA requires users to provide other credentials besides their password to verify their identity. These could be something you know (like a PIN or a passcode), something you have (like a smartphone or a smart card), or something you are (like a fingerprint or a retinal scan).
A popular authentication factor is a temporary code sent to your mobile phone. You can download an authenticator app like Google Authenticator to help you manage and access all your codes in a central location, even when your phone is offline.
9. Monitor the dark web for compromised credentials or information
Regularly check if your company accounts and passwords have been compromised and posted on the dark web. There are tools and services that scan the dark web in real time and take action to protect your stolen business assets before they can be used for identity theft, breaches, or other cybercrimes.
10. Implement a security incident and event management (SIEM) solution
SIEM tools aggregate and analyze security data from various sources across your entire IT infrastructure. With a SIEM solution, you can review activities and security logs from all covered systems and devices to discover trends, catch abnormal behavior, and investigate any potential threats. Implementing a SIEM solution also allows you to ensure you remain compliant with increasing cybersecurity requirements.
11. Deploy secure web gateways
A secure web gateway protects your network by filtering malicious internet traffic in real time. It detects web and email threats as they emerge and subsequently blocks them before they reach your systems. A secure web gateway also offers application controls for web applications and even data leak prevention features.
12. Secure mobile devices
If your employees are using personal smartphones or tablets for work, make sure they password-protect their devices, encrypt their data, and install security apps. Also, create reporting procedures for lost or stolen devices. These ensure that your company data remains safe even if your employees aren’t using company computers.
13. Turn on your Firewall Security Features
A firewall is an important first line of defense against cyberattacks. Essentially, it prevents unauthorized access to and from your network. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recommends enabling your operating system's built-in firewall or installing firewall software available online. If you have employees working from home, consider providing them with firewall software and support to ensure compliance.
14. Encrypt your data
Encryption prevents third parties from accessing your data while it's at rest (i.e., stored in a device or any backup medium) or in transit (i.e., moving from one system or device to another). This method of secure communication is invaluable in combating advanced threats as well as maintaining regulatory compliance.
For employees accessing your network remotely, using a virtual private network (VPN) allows them to establish a more secure connection and encrypt their online activity, both of which are essential to ensure safe and reliable access.
15. Invest in cyber insurance
Cyber insurance can't protect your business from threats, but it can help you cushion the blow of a breach or an attack by offsetting recovery costs. Data breaches often incur significant expenses, including business and data asset losses, costs of investigations, and any court and settlement fees if you take legal action. With cyber insurance, you can keep your business on a stable financial footing if a significant attack does occur.
Cyber insurance coverage is classified into three main types: cyber security, cyber liability, and technology errors and omissions insurance. The first two deal with risks relating to data breaches, while the third focuses on companies that provide technology services and products.
To protect your network from increasingly sophisticated cyberattacks, you and your employees must remember these cybersecurity best practices. Staying on top of the latest cybercrime trends and prevention technologies will also prove useful. We at Intelligent Technical Solutions can help you do both and more. Take the first step to safeguarding your business by claiming your FREE cybersecurity assessment that’s valued at $497.