Contrary to what most think, big corporations aren’t the only ones at risk of cyberattack. In fact, cybercriminals have increasingly targeted small businesses in the past few years because they’re less likely to be able to defend themselves. Cybersecurity should definitely be on your mind as a small business owner or entrepreneur. Here are some key points in protecting your business, both by employing network security services and consultants and by encouraging security practices in the workplace.
Install a Firewall
Firewalls are one of the most familiar aspects of cybersecurity to most people, but having one set up on your network remains a good practice even today. Firewalls secure your network’s ports, closing unnecessary ones to prevent access. Many routers have built-in firewalls, but it’s a good idea to double check. You may also want to supplement the network firewall with desktop firewalls for computers within the network, as well as any external devices used for work.
Older software can have major security vulnerabilities—the older the software, the more likely it is that hackers will know how to exploit it. Make sure to stay on top of updates for all security software—firewalls, anti-malware programs, etc.—as well as the router’s firmware, operating systems and any software that handles sensitive data and is open to the network. This means both regularly scheduled updates as well as staying alert for any emergency updates issued by developers.
Protect the Hardware
A common way to circumvent network security is by gaining access to the devices themselves. Take measures to prevent unwarranted access to worksite hardware, including keeping tabs on laptops, tablets and other portable devices. On the devices themselves, set up separate accounts for each employee when possible, limiting what any one person can access.
Use a VPN
A virtual private network (VPN) adds extra security when you need to work outside the business’s network itself. The VPN uses tunneling protocols to encrypt data between two devices, securing transmissions even on public networks. If employees need to take their work with them, either when going home or visiting clients off-site, make sure all involved devices have the same VPN application installed. Large businesses may set up their own VPN, but small businesses can seek out providers.
Encourage Best Practices
Human error remains one of the biggest security flaws—leaving devices unattended, falling victim to malware or scams and failing to update passwords are common mistakes. Take the time to educate your employees and colleagues on staying aware of these pitfalls, as well as how to use any security applications on your network. Be sure to document your business’s security protocols, too, so everyone knows them.