In spite of the growing threat it represents, many small business owners are still failing to properly protect their online information. And who can blame them? With so many other aspects of their business to focus on, it’s small wonder that small business owners put online security on the back burner. However, cyber-criminals are increasingly zeroing in on small to medium enterprises as they are seen as an easy target. So what can you do to protect your business?
There are a number of relatively simple ways that you can enhance your online security and protect your business.
When logging into any online portal, especially where sensitive information may be stored, you should use a 2 factor authentication system where you are required to use a password and a one-time code sent to you via email or text message. That way, even if your password is compromised, hackers won’t be able to access the second layer of authentication as they don’t have access to the code. Another good practice is to use passphrases instead of passwords. Passphrases are essentially a series of words that are longer, easier to remember and harder to guess than standard passwords.
Educating your staff on the importance of keeping data safe can go a long way to preventing a cyber-attack. Ensure staff have their own login credentials and only have the level of access necessary to do their jobs. Remind your staff not to click on any suspicious looking links or download anything they have not specifically requested. Share news of the latest scams that are doing the rounds so staff know what to be wary of. Scamwatch is a great source of information.
Ensuring you always have the latest versions of the software and applications you use is essential for to protecting your business from hackers. Generally speaking, every time software is updated, the developers will have done work to patch up any security issues and secure any known vulnerabilities. You should also make regular back-ups of your data part of your routine. These back-ups should be stored off-site in a secure location so that you can easily restore your data should the worst case scenario happen and your system is compromised.
Cyber-security is everybody’s business, not just that of the IT guy. Make sure all of your staff are aware of their personal responsibilities in terms of keeping their login credentials safe, use of business equipment on unsecure Wi-Fi networks and installing unknown software on work computers. Given the number of instances of high-profile companies being hacked, it’s important that small business owners and operators don’t become complacent and think that it won’t happen to them.
For more information on how to protect your business, the government has put together a guide for small business owners on the Stay Smart Online website. There are also a number of software options that will add another layer of security to your system. When it comes to keeping your business’ data secure, there’s no excuse for not making it a top priority.