The internet has transformed every aspect of modern life, including the world of business. The sheer size and speed of the expansion which has taken place in connectivity and communication have created some amazing opportunities for entrepreneurs looking to make their mark in their industry. From food and clothes to electronics and marketing, every industry has been impacted by the rise of the world wide web, providing easier access for smaller businesses who might otherwise have struggled to find their platform.
However, the increasing necessity of tech isn’t all good news for small businesses. When the internet falls into the wrong hands, the results for small businesses can be disastrous.
We are talking, of course, of cybercrime. Over the last few years, hacking, stealing data and data corruption have become things that every business has to plan for, particularly small businesses. But don’t worry, we here to talk you through the dangers of cybercrime and what you can do to protect your small business.
Cybersecurity issues most commonly impact small businesses
For as long as there has been the internet, there have been hackers. But with more and more businesses storing important data and information online, cybercriminals are using increasingly advanced techniques to access it, with increasingly serious consequences.
Hackers will target everything from money to personal information, and the increasing number of business sites, apps and social media platforms have opened up more avenues for criminals to try. This makes understanding cybersecurity more important than ever.
And it is small businesses who are most at risk from these kinds of threats. Figures from the Congressional Small Business Committee reveal that an amazing 71% of cyberattacks occurred within businesses with less than 100 employees. This makes small and medium businesses the number one target for cybersecurity breaches.
Why do cyberattacks target small businesses?
71% is a significant proportion of cyberattacks, so why are small businesses so much at risk?
One reason is that small businesses often underestimate their own significance. While larger businesses will likely see themselves as a viable target for criminals, small businesses might assume that they’re safe simply because their presence within their industry flies under the radar. But many cybercriminals look for smaller targets, so never underestimate your own risk.
For many small businesses, their increased risk is simply a matter of budget. You may not have the funds to put advanced security measures in place, and this can lead to vulnerabilities which can then lead to cybercrime.
You may not also have the staffing and time in place for adequate training in cybercrime. Larger organizations may be able to hire staff members or even whole teams specializing in security, while this often isn’t an option for smaller businesses. Outsourcing your IT security needs to specialists like Syntax IT Support London can help resolve this issue.
How to prevent cybercrimes in your small business
Understanding the importance of the cybersecurity threat is the key first step to protecting your small business. Protecting against cybercrime should be a staple aspect of any organization, large or small, as every business is a potential target for hackers.
Thankfully, there are plenty of things you can do to make your small business safer. Here are six of the simplest measures you can put in place to make a start on your cybersecurity.
Train your employees
Even if you don’t have many employees at your business, you can still educate your team on the importance of cybersecurity. There are simple things that everyone can do to increase security in the workspace, but only if you make your team aware of it.
Simple measures like updating passwords regularly and sharing files securely can greatly increase your overall security, and these are easy things for every member of your team to do.
Make sure cybersecurity is constantly in your team’s minds. Regular meetings and email updates with gentle reminders can help to make your team aware of what they should and shouldn’t be doing, potentially saving you from a disaster down the line.
Incorporate safe password practices
According to a report, most data breaches occur due to password attacks. If a password is too simple, it can be all too easily cracked by hackers. A strong password is one that’s at least 6-8 characters long and includes uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers and symbols.
Encourage your employees to change their passwords every 60-90 days. It may not sound frequent, but making this regular change can make a big difference.
Your team also shouldn’t use the same password for everything, as this makes things all too easy for cybercriminals. By hacking into one account, they can then access a whole host of other platforms and accounts. Differ your passwords between services. You don’t want your email password and your online banking password to be the same.
Secure your wi-fi
Hacking business wi-fi can be an easy route to accessing data. However, there are many easy ways to make your connection more secure.
First of all, you should limit internet access to your employees only, and set up a different network for customers and guests. To make it even safer, you should update the wi-fi password as regularly as you would your own personal passwords.
You can also invest in software which protects your wi-fi. Brands like McAfee specialise in protecting your devices and connections against viruses and hackers, and can be subscribed for multiple PCs. This can help to protect your business from external threats.
Introduce multi-factor authentication
A strong password is a great way to stay protected, but adding another layer can give you even greater peace of mind.
Adding another layer to your password is known as two-factor authentication. You type in your password and this sends a code to another communication device you own, such as your smartphone. You then enter this code as your second password. Putting this extra step into your log in routine is easy and quick, and can make your connections much more protected, especially when combined with a strong first password.
Keep your smartphones safe
It’s not enough in today’s business world to secure your main business devices. So much of our work is carried out via our smartphones, whether through phone calls, emails, sharing files or using apps, so you’ll need to make sure your phone is just as protected as your PC.
There are plenty of ways to do this. First of all, switch on password protection, and make sure any stolen devices can be tracked, locked or wiped. You should also carry out any updates on your device and your apps, as these updates often come with the latest security measures.
And be wary of what internet connections you’re attaching your phone to — unknown wi-fi hotspots are much more likely to be targeted by hackers.
Back up your data
By using secure services like the Cloud, you can back up your important files so that they aren’t tied to a single PC or device. This means that, if an issue occurs with a particular connection or device, you’ve still got access to the information you need, helping you get back on your feet as quickly as possible.