Cybersecurity and Protecting Your Data

Nearly half of all security and data breaches target small businesses. Here, we'll discuss the best cybersecurity practices and how to implement them

Cybersecurity and Protecting Your Data
Katie Metz // Adriana Lacy Consulting

The digitization of business operations is no longer the wave of the future — it’s how businesses operate today. In order to protect the increasing levels of data online, cybersecurity is critical. Unfortunately, small businesses are at high risk for cyberattacks. Nearly half of all security and data breaches target small businesses. Here are some effective cybersecurity practices, and how to implement them.

Why Cybersecurity Matters

If you own a small business, you must protect your online data. Here's a small sampling of vulnerable information that can end up in the wrong hands:

  1. Credit card information
  2. Customers' banking details
  3. Your company’s banking details
  4. Customer lists, complete with addresses, phone numbers and e-mail addresses
  5. Designs for products
  6. Company growth plans

If it’s online, it’s at risk.

Common Small Business Cyber Threats

How does one threaten a small business and steal information? There are several ways it can happen. Here are the most common threats:

  1. Phishing: Phishing is when a fake e-mail or website infects a computer for the purpose of stealing data. Usually, this is an e-mail that looks legitimate enough to click on and attacks the system once clicked.
  2. Malicious Spyware: Malicious spyware enters a computer without permission and steals information, often sending that information somewhere else.
  3. Virus: Computer viruses can cause severe damage to a computer system and allow criminals to steal data.
  4. Ransomware: When infected with ransomware, a computer’s system is hijacked and held ransom until a certain amount of money is paid.

You may often hear the term “malware,” which refers to any computer virus, spyware, or ransomware.

How To Protect Your Small Business

Now that you understand why cybersecurity matters and the common cyber threats to a small business, it’s critical to understand what you can do to protect your company. Thankfully, with purposeful steps to implement suitable systems, educate employees, back up data, and maintain regular updates, your small business will be ahead of the game and lessen the chances of cyber threats. 

Educating Employees

The best way to begin protecting your company's data is by educating everyone in the workplace. Whether working remotely or online, it’s essential that every person in the company understands how important cybersecurity is and what they can do to help protect their data and everyone else's.

During training, consider covering the following topics:

  1. Safety during Internet browsing
  2. Phishing emails and identifying them
  3. The use of strong passwords
  4. Enabling authentication tools

Back-Up Data

Without any form of back up for data, critical information can be lost in a matter of seconds if there is a security breach. One of the best ways to back up things like financial files, spreadsheets, documents, and more is through a cloud service.

Enable Multi-Factor Authentication

Using multi-factor authentication (MAF) quickly reduces the chance of a security breach. It requires more than a password and username to access an account. The following are standard requirements of MAF:

  1. Face or fingerprint recognition
  2. Token
  3. Phone that can be linked to the company account
  4. PIN

Authentication apps also provide temporary pins that expire after a certain amount of time to access an account.

Anti-Virus Software

Anti-virus software helps protect your computers from cyberattacks and is easily purchased online. Be sure to update your anti-virus software when requested to do so.

Control Data and Physical Access

Don’t give employees access to anything other than what they need. Doing so protects the employees and the company. Schedule regular audits of all systems that hold data online, such as the cloud, Dropbox, and Google Drive. Require strong passwords for work computers and don’t allow personal data to be used with a work computer.

Payment Processing

Your customers' financial information may be attacked if your payment processing system isn’t secure. Have the following steps in place for secure payment processing:

  1. A trusted processing partner
  2. Anti-fraud services
  3. Separate computer system for payments

A bonus tip: Don’t surf the Internet on the same computer as the payment processing system.

Use a Firewall

Firewalls are sometimes confused with antivirus software. Antivirus software targets infected software, while a firewall prevents the virus from happening in the first place.

A firewall protects the hardware and software of a computer system. It detects suspicious behavior and viruses, and blocks them from entering. This is essential for any computer system, but especially for companies that have their own physical servers. Aside from detecting suspicious behavior and viruses, firewalls also:

  1. Protect inbound and outbound network traffic
  2. Block suspicious websites from the network

Keep in mind, many firewalls are also customizable to prevent specific, sensitive data from leaving the network. Firewalls need regular updating, so don’t ignore the software updates when it’s time.

Use a VPN

A virtual private network (VPN) gives employees secure access to the Internet, protecting sensitive data and information. This is especially important when working in a public place using internet access. VPNs hide a computer or laptop's traceable IP address by funnelling data through an encrypted tunnel, allowing employees to safely jump online no matter where they are.

Consider a Cybersecurity Company

There is a lot to consider and implement when protecting the data for your company and its customers. All of it is important. The last thing you want to do is let your customers know there has been a data breach and their information has been stolen.

For help with cybersecurity issues, consider a cybersecurity company specializing in helping small businesses stay safe online. Look for the following attributes in a cybersecurity company:

Growth Potential

You may have a small business today, but what does the future look like? You need a cybersecurity company that can grow with your business.

Extra Support

Installing what your system needs for security is one thing — being available and easily accessible when you have questions or when emergencies happen, is another. Don’t sign on with a cybersecurity company that isn’t well-known for its excellent customer service.

Good Reviews

If you aren’t in the cybersecurity business, getting lost in all the jargon is easy. It is crucial to look for a company that has more than a dazzling website and smooth copy. Look for positive reviews and places where the company has tested its cybersecurity product.

Cybersecurity and protecting your data are essential in today’s business world. If you are operating online, protecting your company's sensitive information, as well as the information belonging to your employees and your customers must be a top priority.

Great! You’ve successfully signed up.

Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.

You've successfully subscribed to Media Minds by Adriana Lacy Consulting.

Success! Check your email for magic link to sign-in.

Success! Your billing info has been updated.

Your billing was not updated.