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Top Cybersecurity Practices for Small Businesses in 2024

2023 was a remarkable year in the daunting domain of cybersecurity. With Artificial Intelligence (AI) coming to the forefront of the battle against cyber threats, the year was marked by significant progress in transforming cybersecurity into more intelligent and formidable. However, despite this progress, the cyber threat landscape continues to evolve too. So one lesson to take forward is to always expect a cyberattack and take the necessary precautions to keep your organization safe from it.

One major misconception about cyberattacks is that they only target large enterprises. In the current landscape, this is a rather dangerous misconception to have because it can cost small businesses their entire livelihood. Cyberattacks can and do target everyone using the internet, be it individuals, small businesses, or large enterprises.

Did you know in 2020 alone, 700,000 small businesses were targeted by cyberattacks and it cost $2.8 billion? Therefore, it is crucial in today’s age for every business, despite its size, to take cybersecurity seriously. However, many small business owners are non-technical people and do not have the proper knowledge to strengthen their cybersecurity protocols. Therefore, I am writing this blog as a guide on top tips for family-run businesses to adopt cybersecurity practices.

Why is Cybersecurity Crucial for Small Businesses?

Small businesses usually do not have a lot of funds at hand, therefore, for them, the stakes are always pretty high. They also barely have the budget for customer acquisition which means their priority is retaining present customers. A cyberattack can ruin their business and their finances too as it puts the safety of the following aspects in jeopardy:

  • Customers’ personal information
  • Customers’ financial information
  • Business banking information
  • Pricing structure
  • Future plans
  • Intellectual property

This can pose many risks for the business like financial loss, reputation loss, and high price of ransom attacks.

Therefore, our community needs to take necessary precautions to safeguard the financial and reputational integrity of their businesses. Let us understand how they can do that with tips recommended by the experts.

1.      Conduct a Security Assessment

Every business that has a digital presence has a security posture. This entails how capable it is to identify, respond to, and recover from cyberattacks and risks. This can include your business’ privacy policy and the software you are using.

A security assessment is typically carried out by an IT professional with a strong sense of cybersecurity. They will analyze how and where your data is stored, how secure your devices are, and how a potential breach may impact the business functionality. The result of this analysis is identified problem areas that need professional assistance to improve your business’s security posture.

If you do not have a qualified IT professional, I would recommend hiring a freelance cybersecurity professional to carry out a security assessment for you.

2.      Get a Secure WiFi Network

The second most important thing you can do is invest in a secure WiFi network. The chances of a hacker gaining access to sensitive information through your WiFi connection are pretty high.

WEP is the oldest form of network and is the least secure. Consider investing in the WPA2 or WPA3 networks as they are the most secure and use Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) and Simultaneous Authentication of Equals (SAE) respectively.

I would recommend getting an ISP that does not compromise on security. My experience with Xfinity has been pretty seamless in terms of speed, services, and security. It employs AES to encrypt the connection so that hackers cannot breach through the protocols. You can contact the Xfinity servicio al cliente español to get information on their internet plans.

3.      Limit Access to Customer Data

Customer data, both personal and financial, is privileged information. It should not be accessible by just anyone. Therefore, I would recommend you store it in a secure place and allow only relevant people to access it. This will keep it safe from any internal threats as well.

Moreover, in case of a breach, it will be easier to identify the source if only a handful of people have access to it. This can mitigate any threats from a compromised device or a hostile employee.

4.      Incorporate Multi-Factor Authentication

Multi-factor Authentication (MFA) is when users are required to prove their identity in multiple ways instead of just logging in with a password. This drastically improves security since passwords are pretty easy to hack.

These multiple ways include receiving a code on cell phone or email, answering a secret question, scanning a fingerprint or other unique biometric. The thing about multi-factor authentication is that they are only restricted to the user, which is why it helps to keep information secure.

I would also recommend you implement a strong password protocol. Strong passwords are passwords that are more than 10 characters and have one uppercase and one lowercase letter. Strong passwords also require at least one number and one special character as well.

5.      Train Your Employees

An essential step in improving your business’ security protocol is to develop a cybersecurity sense in your employees. They should be aware of multiple ways in which a hacker can attack.

It is also recommended to train them to identify possible threat actors like phishing emails and suspicious links. It is crucial to train them to adopt cybersecurity practices like good browsing practices, using strong passwords, and following security protocols.

Wrapping Up

Cybersecurity has evolved to become a crucial asset for organizations of every size.

Since today’s digital landscape is becoming increasingly volatile, therefore everyone needs to be aware of the latest practices for ensuring cybersecurity. They should also keep striving to better their business’ cybersecurity posture and ensure data protection compliance. Compliance is a crucial consideration for businesses dealing with customer data.

Lastly, having a good cybersecurity posture can give you peace of mind as well, that your business’ reputation and profitability are safe from threat actors.

 

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