In 2020, small businesses with less than 500 employees lost on average $2.5 million each due to attacks from hackers and cybercriminals. If your small business was not among them, you’re fortunate. But that is not to say that it can’t happen to you.
Cyberattacks are becoming increasingly widespread and sophisticated. The coronavirus pandemic itself brought a wave of pandemic-related phishing attacks in which hackers and cybercriminals posed as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC).
We’re here to help. This article shares the IT security measures that every small business owner should take to protect their businesses from potentially devastating attacks by hackers and cybercriminals.
9 Crucial IT Security Measures for Small Business
Hackers continually develop increasingly elaborate cyberattacks. So as a budding entrepreneur, you must take steps to secure your business. Here are nine IT security measures you should implement to protect your business from potentially devastating cyberattacks.
A firewall is a hardware or software tool that protects your network by standing between it and external traffic. This security tool monitors your network for any attempts of unauthorized access. It also blocks incoming traffic from sources you specify.
It assesses incoming traffic and detects malicious traffic to prevent hackers attacks and malware infections. Business owners use firewalls as their first line of defense against cybersecurity threats, which are becoming increasingly widespread and sophisticated. We recommend using a firewall alongside other IT security measures.
2. Data Backup
A good data backup ensures your business survives data loss following a cyberattack, so every company should implement effective data backup measures. Automate your data backup measures to ensure the backup is up-to-date.
Secure all your critical backup data with encryption and two-factor authentication. Data security experts recommend against storing your backups in the same location or network as your primary data because a single attack could wipe all the primary and backup data.
3. Data Encryption
Data encryption changes plaintext (original data) into ciphertext, a form that’s readable only with the use of a password or a decryption key. Encryption is the most effective and popular IT security measure available to small businesses. It’s available in two forms: symmetric and asymmetric (public-key) encryption.
This IT security measure protects the data you store or transmit over the internet. Be sure to secure your IT systems and communicate with the latest data security standard (DES). A modern DES provides confidentiality and up-to-date security protocols.
4. Password Management
It’s impossible for you to keep track of the multiple passwords that play a critical role in your business operations. A password management system (PMS) enables you to create, store and access passwords efficiently and securely from a central location.
Moreover, a PMS facilitates other IT security best practices, such as creating adequately strong passwords and changing them periodically. The need for a powerful PMS has grown as more people work from home.
5. Antivirus and Antimalware Software
Antivirus software protects your network from computer viruses and similar threats, whereas antimalware handles a broader set of threats, including trojans and ransomware. Organizations and individuals use these IT security tools alongside other security measures to maximize their cybersecurity.
Antivirus and antimalware products come with several essential features. They check newly installed software for malware and periodically scan a device or network. Well-designed antimalware regularly updates its malware database to recognize the latest threats. It also flags and responds to seemingly harmless programs with suspicious behavior.
6. Security Patch Updates
Software developers push security patch updates to all devices to fix vulnerabilities that developers discover after their initial release or previous update. Developers often rollout security patch updates after hackers target hundreds of users, who then notify the developer of the attack.
Important to note is that you must install security patch updates immediately you receive them to resolve vulnerabilities. Failure to do so leaves your small business exposed to a potentially crippling cyberattack.
7. Digital Signature
A digital signature is an IT security measure that uses a mathematical algorithm to check the integrity and authenticity of a message, such as a digital document, credit card transaction, or email. It creates a virtual signature unique to an individual or organization, so it can verify identities online.
As more people work online, digital signatures are becoming increasingly essential to transacting, communicating, and sharing data securely. This IT security measure also facilitates secure document sharing because you can embed a digital signature in a file.
8. Educating And Training Employees
Educating and training your employees on IT security is an essential IT security measure. Your employees should learn and internalize your security policies. Breaches often occur because of an employee’s error, such as falling prey to a phishing attack by clicking a bad link in an email.
These security breaches can have a devastating impact on your employees, customers, and the reputation of your business. You must therefore ensure that your employees understand your IT security policies.
9. Email Security
Email security refers to IT security measures you use to secure email accounts and communication. These measures prevent unauthorized access and loss of information. They safeguard the content in email, which hackers commonly use to spread malware and carry out attacks such as phishing.
Phishing attacks are among the most common email-related security threats. Hackers use these attacks to lure recipients into disclosing sensitive information or opening links or attachments that install malware on recipients’ devices. Effective email security measures include spam filters, strong passwords, password rotations, and antimalware.
Take Steps to Secure Your Small Business
Organizations of all types and sizes are susceptible to cyberattacks, and small businesses are no exception. For that reason, savvy small business owners implement IT security measures to prevent these attacks and recover from them as quickly as possible in case the attacks happen.
As a responsible business owner, you must put in place IT security measures to ensure that your business, employees, and customers are safe from cyberattacks. The security measures this article lists will help you achieve this goal.