How can a small business protect itself from cybersecurity threats? Start with a plan — and some free or inexpensive resources.
Here are some simple steps small-business owners can take to help keep their systems safe — even with a small staff and limited budget.
Your plan doesn't have to be expensive or elaborate. It just needs to spell out some basic ground rules for you and your employees, such as:
- Use password protection. The days of using a single all-purpose password are long gone. You need to change your passwords on a regular basis and store them offline. Fortunately, there are many low-cost password managers available for small businesses. If you aren't already using one, it's time to start.
- Use multi-factor authentication (MFA). "Multi-factor authentication" is really just a fancy way of saying it takes more than one form of ID to get access to your system. A common example of MFA is the "security code" that some sites send to your smartphone before granting access. Whichever cybersecurity system you choose, be sure MFA is part of the package.
- Keep your software up to date. As with most apps, cybersecurity system updates often fail to work on systems that are too many iterations behind. So if you're still using version 2.0 of a program that has advanced to version 12.0, you're putting out a welcome mat for cyber criminals.
- Keep your employees up to date, too. From phishing expeditions to tech support scams, there's no shortage of ways that hackers can try to trick you or your employees and breach your company's security. Fortunately, there's also no shortage of organizations dedicated to rooting out these schemes and sounding the alarm throughout the small-business community. Monitor these sites on a regular basis, and share the latest alerts with your employees.
Use Those Free Resources
Besides providing alerts about specific scams, the Federal Trade Commission has put together a complete guide to help small businesses with cybersecurity. If you're looking for a way to even up the odds in the never-ending battle against cyber criminals, this is a good place to start. Good luck!
For more information on cybersecurity, read my colleague Jay Bloom’s blog: 6 Information Security Tips for Your Small Business.