Cyber security remains a major concern for all types of businesses- be it small or large. Every business is exposed to vulnerabilities and they look for solutions that are cost-effective as well as trustworthy. A reputed vulnerability scanner can be of great help to the end-users of business as using such a tool can be used for securing their web applications and websites from all external vulnerabilities and threats. The Internet is the base that allows the business of various sizes to penetrate into newer and larger markets, providing endless opportunities to work with higher efficiency with the help of computer-based tools. Every business needs to assign a dedicated budget for strengthening its cybersecurity mechanisms.
Here, I am sharing a 5-step guide of cyber security for small businesses that can be used for improving cyber security within the organization.
Step 1: Backing Up User Data
All businesses need to take regular backups of their crucial data and also need to make sure that these backups are performed recently and can be easily restored as demand persists. When regular backups are taken, the business can still restore its functionalities in case of natural or physical disasters. When the businesses perform backups of the data, they can recover these on the go without any damage and getting blackmailed in case of ransomware attacks.
So, now the importance of backup is discussed, let’s analyze the considerations to keep in mind when performing backup of the data.
- Identifying what data needs to be backed up-
When the businesses have identified the need for back up, they must be able to identify what are his essential data assets. This is some data that has become inevitable for businesses to run.
- Keeping backups separate from the host computer
The businesses need to separate a device/system so that its access is restricted and becomes inaccessible by the staff. When the backups are stored on a separate system, they are not affected by any ransomware or malware attacks and these backups are not affected.
- Considering the cloud alternate
When the cloud storage is deployed, it physically separates the data from the host system’s location. With cloud storage, the users also get the benefit of high-levels of availability and accessibility from all locations.
Step 2: Protecting the Business Against Malware
Malicious software or malware refers to software or web content that has the crude intention of virtually damaging the organization. The most common form of malware is viruses, that are self-replicating programs for infecting the legitimate software.
Let’s now analyze certain tips that can be useful for preventing malware to damage the organization-
- Installing an antivirus software
Nowadays, antivirus software is included free with popular OSs and needs to compulsorily used by user systems.
- Preventing staff from downloading infected apps
The businesses need to make sure that their employees download applications only from trusted online stores. Businesses need to strictly ensure that the staff doesn’t download applications from an unknown vendor.
- Patching up the IT equipment
Businesses need to make sure that all their IT equipment and their associated software & firmware are updated with the latest versions. By performing patching, businesses can improve their security to a great extent.
- Controlling the use of external drives & memory cards
In a business organization, when people share their external drives and memory cards, it becomes very hard to track its contents, how many hands has the device ‘çhanged’ and also how it was by others in the organization.
Step 3: Keeping the Mobile Devices Safe
With advancements in technology and time, mobile technology is now becoming an essential component of modern-day businesses as more now a major chunk of data is being stored on tablets and smartphones. The smartphones used by the business end-users need to be more protective than desktop equipment.
So, let’s analyze certain tips that can be used for keeping the mobile device and their information safe-
- Turn on password protection
A complex password restricts a hacker from accessing the mobile phones of the staff present in the business. Many modern-day mobile devices are now supported by fingerprint recognition for locking the device. The businesses need to ensure that password protection remains enabled.
- Updating the device and device applications
It is important to fot the business owners and their staff to update their smartphones and tablets. All the manufacturers release the latest updates containing crucial security updates for protecting the devices. Just like the OS needs to be timely updated, the applications also have to be updated regularly. These updates in the applications also have solutions to open security holes.
Step 4: Use Passwords to Protect Data
A lot of information is stored in business systems and all these are user-critical data. Thus, it becomes essential for businesses to have access to this information and there is no unauthorized access to these.
The importance of password for storing critical data is known to everyone and here are some strategies that the small businesses can use when working with passwords-
- Password protection is turned on
The password protection is not restricted only just to smartphones and tablets. Businesses need to make sure that their office equipment has an encryption product supported by a trusted platform module with a PIN for starting up.
- Using two-factor authentication for crucial accounts
Businesses need to add two-factor authentication to all their accounts wherever needed. It adds an enhanced level of security without putting in any extra effort.
- Avoiding easy-to-predict passwords
For a business owner, the passwords need to be easy to remember, but at the same time difficult for any unauthorized user to guess. The organization’s staff also needs to avoid some of the commonly used passwords, that can be easily guessed by any outside system intruder.
- Updating all default passwords
The businesses need to reset the default passwords before they start distributing systems to their employees. The businesses also need to regularly check devices for detecting if any default password has gone unchanged.
Step 5: Avoiding Phishing Attacks
In a phishing attack, spammers shoot fake emails to a large number of users asking for their sensitive information or even links to bad websites. Phishing emails are getting harder to determine and there are chances that businesses are going to be the recipient of phishing emails at one point of time in their businesses.
Let’s now analyze some steps for determining some of the common phishing attacks-
- Configuring user account to minimize the attack impacts
Businesses should configure their staff accounts well in advance, i.e giving staff the lowest level of user rights needed to perform their jobs. In case they are a victim of a phishing attack, then the potential damage can be reduced. Admin account holds privileges like updating security settings, installing software and hardware. Emails can also be deployed with two-factor authentication.
- Checking for email filtering services
Email filtering services are an attempt to send phishing emails to the spam/junk folder in the mailbox. There have to be clearly-defined rules that determine this filtering of emails to meet the needs of a business organization.
- Reporting all attacks
It becomes important to take measures for scanning malware and changing as early as possible if there lies a suspicion about an attack that might have occurred.
However, this is just a basic user step-wise guide for the small business to counter any cyber security that might have popped up in their business’s functionalities. There can be more ways in which SMBs can tackle the upcoming threats and vulnerabilities. Businesses can secure their websites and web applications by deploying a vulnerability scanner like VTMScan and protect their digital data assets.