5 Effective Ways to Increase Data Security of Small Businesses

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  • #2427

    Many small businesses hold customer credit card information on file and maintain electronic employee records, as well as manage their banking online. And a breach of this data may disrupt basic operations and damage your reputation not to mention probably costing you thousands of dollars.

    Symantec, in fact, has recently released a report describing how cyberattacks against small businesses are on the rise and are expected to increase in the coming years. With the Better Business Bureau reporting that U.S small businesses lost an average $79,841 from cyberattacks in 2017. So it makes sense to take action to avoid these potential losses. Here’s how:

    Conduct a Cybersecurity Audit

    To defend against a cyberattack, first, it is needed to understand the areas of vulnerability and then develop an action plan to address them. The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) has designed a Small Firm Cybersecurity Checklist that can be downloaded free and is basically an audit tool which can help you identify the areas where your data is exposed to outside exploitation.

    The checklist also addresses other needs, such as incident-response systems, employee-data management training and other necessary actions you can take to secure your data. The checklist includes many areas where you should document the remediation steps that are necessary to better secure your information.

    Once completed, the checklist will show you the current position with regards to the data security as well as provide you a detailed action plan for improvement.

    Train and Monitor Your Employees

    Employee training of secure data management plays an important part, but so is teaching your team to indicate and report possible internal breaches. The IBM 2016 Cyber Security Intelligence Index observed that 60 percent of all cyberattacks were committed by the people working in the companies surveyed.  Of those insider attacks, three-quarters were committed with malicious intent and the other quarter were carried out by unintentional actors.

    For small businesses, protecting yourself from this kind of internal threat starts with your on-boarding process. Train employees on cybersecurity measures within the organization and review the penalties, both internal and criminal, for intentional breaches. When a staff member leaves the company, conduct an out-boarding interview that assesses these penalties, and then alter all the passwords and other security keys that were in use of the person. This will ensure that he or she may not have physical or electronic access to your business operations after leaving.

    Manage Information Access

    Since most of the cyberattacks occur from the sources inside, another way to protect your data is to restrict access. It is not necessary for every employee to access every account, file or database. Review all employees’ roles within the organization and give them access only to the required information to perform their tasks. According to the CompuQuip, data should be classified and controls or tools must be set up to manage access.

    There are two ways this process protects your data. First, it limits the access of each employee to the information, which will reduce the amount of harm that may occur if it is used for some non-business purposes. Secondly, there will be a possibility of a very little damage if the employee is the victim of a phishing attack or some other malware infection, since the access to the data systems will be limited.

    Set up Automatic Software Updates

    Cybercriminals analyze software programs for weaknesses and exploit those vulnerabilities when they get a chance. The latest the software version you are running, the more protected it will be from the cyberattacks. As suggested by the Comodo Antivirus, updating your operating system, antivirus, and other software regularly reduces the risk of being infected by malware and you don’t become the victim of ransomware attacks.

    Few businesses realize the importance of this fact and take the time to update their systems regularly, but many of the software packages have the option of automatic updates. Utilizing this feature is one of the great protection options you have against external threats.

    Use a Decentralized Virtual Network

    You may think you are secure, but many business messengers and communication systems may be collecting the history of your business data and communication. This information can be used for the host’s own use or by other companies without your knowledge or permission. For instance, recently a fine of 500,000 pounds was imposed on the Facebook by the Information Commissioner’s Office of the UK for the social media platform’s role in the Cambridge Analytica scandal. The reality is that entrusting your data and privacy to an outside system will leave you vulnerable to this kind of misuse of your information.

    For this reason, Zangi Messenger’s experts have recommended that you should create your own secure and independent communication network for full control over your own business data. If your own company servers or clouds host this decentralized virtual network; it will give you complete control of who has access to your data or information and how it is used.

    Messaging, document-sharing and other standard business activities can then occur anywhere without any risk of malware downloads or data beaches. It makes this a great solution for small companies doing a lot of business away from the office.

    Bottom Line

    Cybersecurity is a necessity that is given low priority by too many small businesses, but this negligence can lead to severe financial loss. Instead, you should conduct an internal audit, train your employees and monitor them, and update your software on regular basis to better protect yourself. If you do most of your business out of your office, use a decentralized virtual network to keep the data secure wherever you go.

    #2472

    Very educative article. However, the most effective way of protecting your organization from cyber attack is by understanding all the vulnerable areas of vulnerability and then develop an action plan to address them. It will help you to determine all available loophole. Cybercriminals analyze software programs for weaknesses and exploit those vulnerabilities when they get a chance.

    #2539
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