Staying safe online is more challenging than ever, especially for small businesses. Although big companies often suffer the costliest attacks, small to mid-sized businesses are less able to suffer the cost of a data breach. Thankfully, a few simple tactics can help safeguard your assets. Here are six ways to keep your company’s data secure.
- Encrypt Your Data
Modern businesses collect and analyze a massive number of data points. Helpful tools like a customer data platform or business analytics software are especially adept at collating a wealth of information. Much of this data consists of personal information about leads and clients. That’s a treasure trove for hackers. Encryption scrambles text to make it unreadable to third parties. Individual folders and files can be encrypted, as can disks. Files stored in the cloud can also be encrypted, though the safest place for data is offline in an encrypted USB device. Encryption is a solid first step toward a comprehensive security plan.
- Secure All Endpoints Equally
One potentially devastating security oversight is a lack of standardization. The modern workplace is decentralized, relying on an array of devices. Unfortunately, a security lapse on one device can put the whole network at risk. Endpoint security is the protocol of setting standards for security measures like antivirus software and enforcing compliance. Every device should have high-quality antivirus software installed. All operating systems should have the latest security patches. Getting everyone on the same page makes the entire network more secure.
- Utilize Zero Trust Architecture
Another mistake many companies make is letting the wrong users access their networks. It’s natural to want to streamline the buying process for clients and business partners, but it can’t be at the expense of security. Zero-trust in this context means insisting on verified credentials from anyone accessing your network. Multifactor authentication (MFA) methods like one-time passcodes are becoming increasingly popular. Network segmentation, or dividing a network into smaller parts, is another effective tool that can prevent the lateral movement of hackers within a system. Doing so can mitigate losses when a worst-case scenario turns real.
- Improve Authentication Protocols
Authentication is a defining component of zero-trust security, but many users don’t take this seriously enough. Authentication starts with the most simple security precaution: a strong password. Research company GoodFirms found that almost a third of security compromises happened because of weak passwords and password setups. A shocking 52.9% of respondents had shared their passwords with friends, family, and coworkers. A strong password should be around 12 characters in length and consist of numbers, letters, and symbols. It should be randomized if possible and, if written down, should be stored in a secure location like any other valuable.
- Train Employees to Counter Threats
Security giant Tessian’s now-famous 2020 security study found a surprising statistic: 85% of data breaches are rooted in human error. These mistakes take many forms. Prioritizing speed over caution was a primary culprit. Individuals also failed to admit to minor blunders; in time, they became massive issues. Ignorance is arguably the biggest flaw. Many workers have no idea how to tell a fraudulent URL from a legitimate one. Others are prone to clicking on unfamiliar links. That can open up a system to ransomware scams. The ability to recognize threats is the most effective countermeasure you can deploy.
- Enhance Physical Security
Even cybercrime experts tend to overlook the value of physical security. High-tech cybersecurity is useless if a hacker breaks in and steals devices. Possibly the most vulnerable area of your facility is the waste disposal area. Hackers often go dumpster diving for practical information. Old financial records, receipts, and tossed-away passwords allow cybercriminals to steal your personal and company identity data. Make sure to shred all documents before discarding them. If you have surveillance, keep it trained on all entry points and waste disposal areas.
Cybersecurity is everyone’s issue. The more everyone knows about how to prevent attacks, the fewer there will be. Use these tips as a starting point for your research into better digital security.