Owning and operating a small business is not just difficult because of the financial risks involved. Today, in a world where so many employees work online and digital goods are created and transported all over the web, your security infrastructure can also be in danger.
Small businesses need to take every possible step to ensure their security is up to standards and can withstand any digital attack. They also need to take care of the basics and make sure their employees are as well. Being careful in the face of digital uncertainty can be the difference between a stable, secure workplace and total chaos. Here are twelve small business security tips to ensure your employees and company are safe from outside threats.
Encryption is Key
Every device your company uses should be encrypted to keep outside forces out of your affairs. Encrypting digital devices, and files within each device, will create data security for your company and employees because outside forces will have to work harder and more frequently to access what they want.
Every document, presentation, piece of data, and asset which contains sensitive information for your company should be strongly encrypted to keep third parties out and your employees in. Even PowerPoints and e-mails should be encrypted because you never know when these assets will be passed along, both inside and outside of the workplace. Next I.T. offers powerful encryption services for your company’s use.
To encrypt your files on your own, follow these steps:
- On your home computer, choose the file or folder you want to encrypt and right-click on it
- Select Properties
- Select the Advanced button then check the box next to Encrypt contents to secure data
- Press OK, which will close the Advanced Attributes window
- Select Apply to save your settings and then choose OK
The second most critical data security strategy to securing your company is to ensure that backups are performed daily to every single sensitive or important asset your company manages. Downtime happens, even in the most technologically advanced companies, and backing up your files will ensure two things; first, your employees will be able to keep working, even when your primary files or sites aren’t up.
Secondly, backing up your data ensures it’s stored in a secure place and won’t be accessible in digital trash cans and recycling bins. There should be multiple backups as well; store everything your company can’t lose in more than one location at a time, no matter what.
Don’t Skip Background Checks
Although many small businesses don’t think about possibilities from outside their company, the reality is security threats can come from within companies from personal data just as easily as they can come from outside them. Fraud and embezzlement are actually the number one concern outside of explicit cyberattacks.
Amazingly, based on multiple reports and expert research, nearly seventy percent of fraud occurs from within a small business. To curb the majority of this insider crime, your company should be performing background checks on employees before they’re hired. A simple background check can make sure everything’s on the up and up and ensure no employees have prior problems in their past.
Some companies that perform background checks include:
Back to digital protection, one of the most protective and important digital security measures in existence today is the firewall. Firewalls add a heavy, first-line, and nearly perfect layer of protection to every digital asset your team uses.
There are many companies which offer great firewalls, but one of the best is Next I.T. Next I.T. offers superior protection so that hackers and other cyber attackers are delayed or thwarted altogether when they attempt to steal your company’s valuable information. There are many different firewall brands you can trust, but Next I.T. boasts the most protective and innovative in the industry.
Make User Authentication Frequent
Whether your employees are working from home or inside the building, they should be authenticating their identities often. Every time they access the building or access their own equipment, they should be identifying themselves and ensuring they are not threats.
This may sound extreme, but user authentication is one of the easiest and most sound measures to stop hacking attempts. In the past, one-step authentication was considered “good enough” but recent attacks and circumstances have changed the mindset of many businesses.
Today, two-factor authentication is used so that companies have a second layer of protection and peace of mind. Next I.T. offers great two-step authentication from a variety of sources, such as cellular devices and work on computers.
Be Cautious of Viruses and Malware
A blunt force attack is always concerning for small businesses, but even more concerning is the very real possibility of phishing attempts and other methods for viral spread. Employees aren’t always cautious when using their work computers and are capable of clicking on links which aren’t legitimate.
Many hackers and outside forces build entire websites which look identical to existing websites in order to fool employees and steal sensitive and valuable information from a variety of companies.
There are a few different ways your company can protect themselves from these attacks, starting with making sure employees are well aware of the possibilities of phishing and other attacks. Another easy solution is to install anti-virus software which detects threats and neutralizes them before they become vital.
Strengthen Your Passwords
One of the most common-sense changes to make is one many small businesses simply don’t think of. Strong passwords are a critical part of any strong foundation against cyberattacks, but many small businesses – and even many large businesses – are simply lacking in their password security.
An astounding number of employees and businesses use passwords as simple as:
Many employees will use these simple passwords for machines with critical or sensitive information. Each employee should have sophisticated or complex passwords to ensure optimal protection. Contrary to popular belief, these passwords don’t have to be constantly shifting. Studies have shown that changing passwords often only confuses and frustrates employees into easy mistakes. Having complex passwords is good enough.
Don’t Use Freeware
In conjunction with acquiring anti-virus software, it’s imperative that your company uses software which actually gets the job done and isn’t meant to scam or hack you to begin with. Virus protection which doesn’t actually protect anything is usually free and known as “freeware.”
Your company’s cybersecurity is not the place to cut corners, and anti-virus protection is absolutely worth the cost. Next I.T. can offer robust and effective protection for your digital infrastructure for a great cost. The bottom line is this; never use free software to protect some of the most valuable and vulnerable assets in your company’s possession.
Keep Work Devices for Work
Both upper and lower tier employees should be aware of the difference between work devices and personal devices. As a great rule of thumb, these devices should be kept separate whenever possible. Work devices should generally be kept at work and personal devices – excluding phones often – should generally be kept at home.
The work from home mentality of many of today’s employees has confused this point a bit, but it’s still important to make sure your employees aren’t making poor choices on their work devices. Next I.T. provides remote device protection for your at-home work force.
WATCH OUR WEBINAR TO LEARN HOW TO MAXIMIZE SECURITY FOR REMOTE WORKERS BELOW:
Many companies, both large and small, are offering their employees their own devices to ensure the difference is never blurred and security is never an issue due to lack of separation. Overall, using work machines for personal decisions and digital excursions is usually one of the most prominent security threats facing companies today.
Don’t Forget Physical Security
With all of the different digital avenues for hackers to traverse, and all of the digital holes your company might have, it’s easy to overlook other concerns. Small businesses often treat their physical assets with a lack of concern and security because they’re worried about their digital assets, but this is a mistake.
Physical copies of files and assets should be secured just like digital assets, including documents, presentations, and other valuable paper-based information. Every employee in your company should know the value of keeping their physical assets secure.
In addition, many businesses also take the extra step of shredding their physical documents to ensure an extra layer of security and peace of mind. It’s extremely difficult, bordering on impossible, to put together shredded documents and your company will be well off if they take this extra step. An alarm system may also be a wise investment to keep people outside of the computer from breaking in and stealing classified information.