From extortion to robbery, small businesses have always been criminal targets. Today, their greatest threat may be cyber attacks. Fireeye reports that 77% of all cybercrimes are directed towards small business, yet only 42% of small business owners are concerned with cyber security.
One cannot stress the importance of cyber security on Main Street. According to the National Small Business Association, as many as 60% of small businesses that experienced a significant cyber breach will go out of business within six months. This is actually not surprising considering the fact that according to Visa the average breach costs $3.5 million.
Adding cyber security to your business does not require spending thousands of dollars or hiring your own IT person. The Federal Trade Commission recommends that small businesses follow these five affordable best practices to safeguard business and customer data.
1. Update your security software
Keep your software up to date, including making automatic security updates to operationalize your cyber security practices. You should also consider antivirus software providers such as MacAfee or Norton.
2. Protect your files
Back up important files offline, as well as in the cloud and external hard drives.
3. Create strong passwords and enable multi-factor authentication
Most devices, networks, and platforms require a password, and you should use strong passwords that include numbers, characters and different cases. Update your passwords every 2-3 months and create different passwords by device for optimal security. Enabling multi-factor authentication also offers an additional layer of protection, while allowing you to use a second device to access a temporary code to complete the login process if you forget your password.
4. Secure your router
Once your internet connection is established at your home or office, change the default network name and password shared with the internet provider support team. Update it with your own network name and password and turn off the remote management function.
5. Train your staff
Conduct quarterly or biannual training for your support staff on cyber security best practices and risk factors.
Today’s rapidly evolving age of technology has allowed small businesses to grow and enter the unchartered territories of the internet and data. Unfortunately, the geographical confines of crime have been completely redefined as well. Small businesses should take these simple and affordable steps to protect themselves.