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  • Writer's pictureMark Riemer

5 Ways to Boost Your Small Business Cybersecurity and Gain Peace of Mind

Updated: Sep 26, 2023

You have heard many reports of hackers breaking into big businesses and stealing their data. But did you know many cyberattacks target small to medium-sized businesses also? That means your business needs to take action to protect your valuable data. Don’t wait until it’s too late!

Cyberattacks and data breaches pose a huge threat and small businesses in particular can be hit hard. While hackers may focus on larger organizations, small businesses are typically perceived to have weaker and inadequate security defences in place and are often caught in the crossfire of larger data breaches targeting those big fish.

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2021 saw a rise in data breaches, resulting in a wake-up call for many small businesses. Cybercriminals make it clear they don’t discriminate by size and that everyone’s data is vulnerable to attack and theft. As a result, small businesses need to step up their game and invest in cybersecurity measures to protect their assets and reputation. Yet many struggle to stay up-to-date with new and developing threats and lack the resources required to protect their company’s data and reputation.

In this post, we explore the top 5 must-have cybersecurity practices that your small business can adopt to decrease vulnerability to threats.

1. Back up your files!

Don’t underestimate the power of a solid backup plan. It’s your lifeline in case of a cybersecurity breach. Having backups allows you to restore your data in case of an attack and mitigate losses caused by cybercrime. But don’t just rely on one backup. You need to have at least two copies of your data: one stored on the premises, and one stored in the cloud. Cloud services like Dropbox or OneDrive offer extra cybersecurity features like creating version histories that let you restore your data from a previous state. So if a hacker encrypts your latest backups, you can revert back to a previous state before the attack.

But that isn’t the only thing! It’s not enough to create your backups. You also need to test them, either monthly or quarterly, to make sure they work when needed. Don’t wait until disaster strikes to find out your backups are corrupted or outdated. Testing your backups will give you peace of mind and confidence in your recovery plan.

2. Train your employees

Your employees are your first line of defence against cyberattacks, but they can also be your weakest link if they don’t know how to spot them. Educate employees on how to recognize and prevent common threats to your company’s cybersecurity, like phishing, ransomware and other social engineering tactics.

Your employees are vulnerable to threats that can trick them into giving away sensitive information or downloading malicious software by phone, email or web. When you educate your employees on the most common ways cybersecurity can be compromised, you empower them to protect your business and themselves from attacks.

3. Automate software and antivirus protection updates

Outdated software and operating systems are prime targets for cybercriminals. Hackers can easily exploit security vulnerabilities in software when businesses fail to update with the latest security patches. Don’t let outdated software and systems expose you to cyber risks.

Automate software updates whenever possible so that patches are applied promptly. This reduces the risk of human error and oversight with a manual update. It gets them done faster and more reliably. You can also use patch management software to scan, install, and monitor security patches for all of your systems and software. This gives you peace of mind and you can focus on your core business.

Always update and review your antivirus software. Most antivirus programs update their databases daily, yet businesses will miss when a new version of the software is released. Create a simple process to review and update your antivirus program to the latest version and always remember to renew your subscription!

4. Protect your data with strong passwords and multi-factor authentication

It may feel like a hassle to create and use strong, unique passwords for every device used at work, but these rules can ward off many of the most common cybersecurity attacks. You can think of a good password as the outcome of an excellent recipe.

For best results, passwords should contain at least 15 characters of uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers and symbols. They should be changed often so as to reduce the possibility of brute force attacks succeeding in breaching security.

Boost security on mobile devices with multi-factor authentication (or MFA for short). MFA adds an extra layer of protection so that even if someone steals your password, they still can’t access your account. MFA is already used by many banking sites, so your employees will be familiar with it and comfortable using it. Enable MFA and keep your data safe.

5. Limit access to sensitive data

Limit your employees’ access to data and systems based on their roles and responsibilities. This is called the principle of least privilege (PoLP) and it helps prevent unauthorized or accidental data breaches. Review and update access permissions as employees' roles evolve and change over time.

Another way to secure your data is to encrypt it, both when you send it and where it’s stored. Encryption adds an extra layer of security, making it difficult for hackers to understand or use your data, even if they gain access to it.

Cybersecurity is more than a one-time fix

Cybersecurity is more than a one-time fix. It’s an ongoing challenge that demands your attention and adaptability. It’s never the wrong time to prepare for a cybersecurity incident and no business is immune to threats.

Cybersecurity is a critical concern for small businesses, and it requires deliberate effort and investment. Start by creating a backup plan, training your employees to spot common threats, automating your software and antivirus updates, and limiting access control with better passwords and multi-factor authorization and you will upgrade your business’ cybersecurity defences.

As your trusted IT consulting firm in Hamilton Ontario, Escape Computers helps small businesses create a comprehensive data backup and disaster recovery plan protecting your customers from the smallest to the biggest threats. Check out our managed IT security service solutions and let’s talk IT today.


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