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Entrepreneurs Hub:
Strategies, Tips & Insights to Grow Your Business

Enhance Your Cybersecurity Measures

Manage your Company

Cyber threats are a pressing concern for small businesses. Educate yourself about these dangers and explore ways to safeguard your operations.

Why Prioritizing Cybersecurity is Crucial

The impact of cyberattacks on the economy runs into billions of dollars every year, with individuals and institutions alike facing serious risks. Small enterprises are particularly vulnerable, as they often lack the sophisticated security infrastructure that large corporations enjoy. This makes them a tempting target for cyber criminals seeking to obtain valuable data and information.

Research indicates that many small business owners acknowledge the potential dangers of cyberattacks but feel ill-equipped to address the issue. Tight budgets, limited time, and a lack of expertise are major factors hindering their ability to invest in comprehensive cybersecurity measures.

However, you can begin by learning about established cybersecurity best practices, familiarizing yourself with common threats, and dedicating resources to strengthen your cybersecurity framework.

Effective Strategies for Cybersecurity Prevention

Train your employees

Employee communication within the workplace is a primary cause of data breaches in small businesses, since it provides a direct access point for cyberattacks. By providing basic training to your employees on internet best practices, you can minimize the risk of such threats.

Recommended training topics include:

  • Identifying phishing emails.
  • Using safe internet practices.
  • Avoiding suspicious downloads.
  • Activating authentication tools, such as multi-factor authentication and strong passwords.
  • Safeguarding sensitive customer and supplier information.

Secure Your Computer Networks

Protect your internet connection by using firewalls and encrypting information. If you use Wi-Fi networks, ensure they require a password for access and remain hidden. To conceal your Wi-Fi network, configure your wireless access point or router to not broadcast your network name (SSID). Secure router access with a password. For employees who work remotely, use a virtual private network (VPN) to securely connect to your network outside of the office.

Keep your business safe with updated antivirus software

Ensure that all the computers in your enterprise are installed with antivirus software that is regularly updated. You can purchase software from various online vendors, and all software providers offer updates to enhance functionality and address security concerns. It is advisable to schedule automatic updates to keep your software up to date. Apart from antivirus software, ensure that you update the software associated with operating systems, browsers, and other applications, as this will protect your entire infrastructure.

Beef up your login security with multifactor authentication

Multifactor authentication (MFA) is an excellent way of verifying a person’s identity by requiring additional login credentials beyond a username and password. MFA usually requires users to provide two or more credentials, such as something the user knows (password, passphrase, PIN), something the user has (physical token, phone), and/or something that physically represents the user (fingerprint, facial recognition). Check with your providers to see if they offer multi-factor authentication for your different types of accounts (eg financial, accounting, payroll).

Manage your cloud service provider accounts

If you operate with a hybrid work structure, consider utilizing a cloud service provider (CSP) to store your organization’s information, applications, and collaboration services. Email and productivity software providers known as SaaS can help secure the data you process.

Protect and backup your sensitive data

  • Secure your payment processing – Confirm with your banks or credit card processors to ensure that you use the most trusted and reliable anti-fraud tools and services. You may also have additional security obligations related to agreements with your bank or processor. Don’t use your payment systems with other less secure programs or the same computer you use to process payments and browse the Internet.
  • Control physical access – Safeguard your computers in the enterprise by preventing unauthorized persons from accessing or using them. Laptops and mobile devices are particularly susceptible to theft or loss, so keep them locked when not in use. Create a unique user account for each employee requiring robust passwords. Administrative privileges should only be granted to key IT and trusted personnel.
  • Backup your data – Ensure that you regularly backup data from all computers in your business. Critical data includes word processor documents, electronic spreadsheets, databases, financial files, human resources files, and accounting files. If possible, copy your data and save it to the cloud weekly.
  • Control data access – Frequently review the data and information stored in cloud storage systems, such as Dropbox, Google Drive, Box, and Microsoft Services. Assign administrators for cloud storage and collaboration tools and have them monitor user permissions, granting access to employees to only the information they require.

Familiarize Yourself with Common Cybersecurity Threats

While it’s important to stay proactive in protecting your digital assets, it’s also important to stay informed about the most common cyber threats. Cybercriminals are always developing new tactics to bypass security measures, so it’s crucial to stay up-to-date on potential threats to your business. Below are some resources in English that can help you learn more about common threats.

Malware and Its Effects

Malware, a term that refers to any software designed to cause damage to a computer system or network, is a prevalent threat in today’s digital world. Malware can come in many forms, such as viruses, trojans, and ransomware, and can cause extensive damage to your digital assets if left unchecked.

Viruses and Their Impact

Viruses are malicious programs that infect computer systems and replicate themselves, spreading like a disease throughout networks and devices. They can cause damage to your files, slow down your computer’s performance, and even steal your sensitive information.

Ransomware and How to Avoid It

Ransomware is a specific type of malware that encrypts your files and demands payment in exchange for the decryption key. It is often spread through phishing emails and can cause significant financial and reputational damage to your business.

Spyware and Its Dangers

Spyware is a type of malware that can monitor your online activity and steal your sensitive information without your knowledge or consent. It can be used for commercial purposes, such as targeted advertising, but it can also be used maliciously to steal your personal data.

Phishing Scams and How to Spot Them

Phishing is a type of social engineering attack that uses deceptive tactics to trick you into revealing sensitive information or installing malware on your device. Be cautious of unsolicited emails or suspicious links, and always verify the authenticity of the sender before clicking on any links or downloading any attachments.

Assessing the Security Risks of Your Business

The first step in enhancing your business’s cybersecurity is to assess the risks you face from potential cyber attacks. This will help you understand the areas of your system that need improvement and create an action plan to protect your data and systems.

Conducting a cybersecurity risk analysis can help identify vulnerabilities in your business, and guide you in creating an action plan that includes user training, email platform security, and protection of your company’s information systems and data.

Tools for Planning and Analysis

Having dedicated IT support is crucial for improving cybersecurity, but not every company can afford it. However, there are several measures available that all companies can take advantage of to enhance their cybersecurity.

  • Develop a cybersecurity plan with the help of a tool like The Small Biz Cyber Planner 2.0, offered by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). This tool can assist in creating a customized cybersecurity strategy based on the unique needs of your company.
  • Conduct a Cyber Resiliency Review (CRR) to assess operational resilience and cybersecurity practices. This non-technical assessment is available in English and can be completed independently or with the assistance of cybersecurity professionals from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Computer Emergency Response Team Division of Carnegie Mellon University’s Institute for Software Engineering (CERT).
  • DHS’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) offers free cyber hygiene vulnerability assessments in English for small businesses. These assessments and tests can help organizations identify and address known vulnerabilities to protect their systems and fine-tune configurations.
  • Use the Supply Chain Risk Management Toolkit developed by CISA to safeguard your company’s information technology from supply chain attacks. This toolkit includes resources like strategic messaging, social media, and videos to raise awareness and reduce the impact of supply chain risks.
  • Take advantage of free cybersecurity services and resources compiled by CISA, which include widely-used software tools and services provided by public and private sector organizations in the cybersecurity community.
  • If required, maintain Department of Defense (DoD) compliance for industry partners with the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) program. This program is particularly relevant to federal contractors and subcontractors and is designed to protect Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) shared by the DoD. It is based on a 3-level model (Elementary, Advanced, Expert) in English and requires companies to implement security measures and be evaluated based on the confidentiality of the information. Keeping up with the requirements of the regulation is essential, as a certain level of CMMC will be required as a precondition to award any contract

Opportunities for Learning and Networking

SBA Workshops

The SBA, along with its partner organizations, frequently organizes online and offline workshops. The links listed below are only available in English.

Explore the range of cybersecurity events and workshops scheduled to be conducted by the SBA and its partner organizations.

Additional Learning Resources

The National Cybersecurity Alliance, a collaboration between the public and private sectors, maintains a directory of virtual and in-person resources and events designed to help small business owners protect themselves from cyber threats.

 

 

Tags: Manage your Company

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