Small Business & Startups

Cybersecurity: How to Defend Your Small Biz Against Attack

By April 5, 2016 No Comments

Imagine your routine when you left your house this morning. I am sure it involved at least a few sets of keys. Keys to lock your home while you are away. Keys to get into your vehicle. A keypad to get into your parking garage. A badge to get onto the elevator. Lots and lots of keys. But if you think deeper about those keys, it’s not about allowing you access to something; it’s about keeping unwanted things out.

Now consider your business. How many keys do you have for it? I’m not speaking about a physical set of keys, but rather a metaphorical one. Is your employee information safe? Are your passwords up to par? Is your internet connection password protected and secure? If you can’t definitively answer yes to each of the previous questions, it’s time for a little inward reflection. 71 percent of small businesses rely on the internet for daily business activities, but only 17 percent have a formal cybersecurity plan.

Secure your data.

In 2011, more than 80 percent of business cybercrime were victims of opportunity. Essentially, these companies did not protect their Wi-Fi systems with passwords and generally lacked security elsewhere. To avoid falling victim yourself, turn on encryption tools that come standard with most operating systems. It’s a quick fix that can save a lot of hassle in the long-run. Another trick is to invest in anti-malware and antivirus protection. Since downloading and spam folders are a part of daily activities, be diligent about running anti-malware on a regular basis. A good rule of thumb is to run it after every software install and stay up to date with current updates.

Monitor your credit report.

According to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, cyber crime costs the economy about $445 billion each year. If you see a large sum of money being transferred to an unknown account, it’s a major red flag that you’ve been attacked. Fraudulent activity accounts for 15-30 percent of all commercial credit losses. Stay up to date with your credit report and make sure you are aware of any inaccuracies. Be sure to address these issues promptly to avoid any long-term headaches. Another trick? Verify transactions via phone rather than via the web; doing so will further protect your business from attack. Hackers can’t hack what’s not there.

Educate employees on cybersecurity.

In a day in age where the web is a part of daily, if not hourly (minute to minute?) activity, it’s hard to imagine that you even have to remind people to be diligent about their internet usage. But one silly download can mean risking an entire system. Remind employees to use work machines and Wi-Fi only for…well, work. Next, write an internet policy. With only 10 percent of small businesses having a formal plan, you’ll be ahead of the curve and well protected. Take it one step further and ask employees to help write the policy to encourage buy-in and ownership. Remember to include mobile devices in your plan too, especially in the era of bring your own device. Ask that employees log into the network to complete company business and that they log out for any personal app downloads or emails. Create a culture of cybersecurity and quite frankly, cyber respect.

Use the tips above and check-out our e-book “How to Turn Your Growing Start-Up into a Tech Empire” to help you stay on top of your small business game.