Data breaches at big companies like Netflix, HBO, JP Morgan, and others made headlines last year. It exposed how vulnerable big companies were to hackers.
However, the prime target of hackers across the world is not big businesses. Verizon’s Data Breach Investigation 2018 revealed that 58% of victims of cyber attacks were small businesses.
Hackers are targeting small businesses because most of them have minimal security. This makes it easier for them to steal data from them.
A cyber attack can completely cripple down a small business. Research has found that 60% of hacked businesses have to shut their store after six months of facing a cyber attack.
That being said, if you are serious about protecting your business, then you need to safeguard it against cybercrime.
Here are a few steps you can take to improve your business’ online security.
1. Train Your Employees
Your employees are at the heart of your business’ online reputation and security. After all, they have access to your company’s most sensitive information.
This is why you need to train them to spot security issues and report them. Vigilant employees can prevent cyberattacks before they happen, or, at least, reduce its damaging impact in the company.
Here are a few things you should train your employees in for improved cybersecurity:
Your employees need to create strong passwords for their business accounts.
Encourage them to include numbers and special characters to make their passwords stronger.
Emphasize the fact that they need to create different passwords for their personal and business accounts. So, even if their personal account is compromised, your business’ data stays safe.
Also, make sure your employees know that their passwords should not be shared with anyone else. This includes their spouses, friends, and co-workers.
You need to educate your employees about another common security problem — phishing.
Hackers use this tactic to gain control of sensitive information like passwords and credit card details.
They disguise themselves as a trustworthy entity in emails and ads.
The goal is to make the recipient believe that the message they received is something important, and legit.
For instance, your employee could receive an email that looks like it is from his/her bank. The email could ask them to confirm their account number.
Most phishing emails and websites prompt the user to click on a link or download an attachment. Phishing links may not look suspicious at all.
So, it’s important to inform your employees of these fraudulent practices.
You should advise them to check the sender’s email address properly before opening emails.
You should also advise them to stay away from unsolicited emails. If they have any doubts about any emails, they should consult higher authority to verify its authenticity.
2. Opt For Two-step Authentication
To add another layer of security to your online system, opt for a two-step authentication process.
This process requires a user to confirm their identity twice.
First, they are asked to sign in by entering their username and password. Next, they are asked to confirm their identity using a second piece of information.
However, it’s not just limited to security questions. It’s easy for hackers to find out your school’s name or the name of your pet. So, the two-step authentication process digs in deeper.
One-time passwords, QR codes, SMS codes, email codes, and fingerprints are some commonly used factors in two-step authentication.
It’s an effective way to keep your online assets from being hacked. So much so that even Google, Facebook, and Twitter now use this method to make sure users can protect their accounts against hackers.
Two-step authentication is a must for businesses that provide their employees with laptops and mobile phones. Their devices contain your company information.
So, if it gets lost or stolen, the two-step authentication makes it harder for outsiders to log into the system.
3. Secure Your Wifi
One of the easiest ways to access any company’s internal information is through its Wifi network.
If you’ve just bought a new wireless router, change its password.
Most new wireless routers come with default passwords that are very easy to guess. This is a sweet spot for hackers.
Make sure you create a strong Wifi password. If possible, set up your Wifi in such a way that even all your employees don’t directly have access to the password.
Also, make sure your employees and customers don’t use the same network. Set up a separate network for all your customers.
This way, you can prevent outsiders from joining the business network and getting access to your files.
4. Use SSL Encryption
If you want to improve your online security, you need to keep your website away from hackers. The first step to reducing your website’s vulnerability is to get an SSL certificate for your website.
This allows you to achieve an encrypted connection between your server and a browser. Once you get it, your website URL will use HTTPS instead of HTTP.
You will be able to notice the difference in the website’s URL. A padlock sign will also appear right next to it.
With the help of SSL encryption, sensitive information like passwords and credit card information can be transmitted in a secure manner. Even in transactions involving blockchain debit cards and wallets, SSL encryption is essential.
It prevents hackers from accessing this information. Because of this, SSL is a must for all e-commerce businesses.
5. Get Your Network Segmented
Your company network has employees from different departments that are connected to it. However, they don’t always need to have full access to your network.
Make sure your employees have access to information that they are authorized for. For example, your inventory manager should not have access to your accounts.
Split your computer network into smaller networks that are separate from each other. Each department in your company can have its own subnetwork that they have access to.
This way, you can keep your information isolated and manage the traffic between different networks.
6. Use SIEM Technology
It’s important for organizations to be proactive in protecting their networks against cyber attacks. You need to constantly monitor your network for threats.
One of the best ways to monitor your online security is to use Security Information and Event Management (SIEM). It is a very powerful tool that detects network threats and breaches in real-time.
SIEM also facilitates quick response as it automatically generates alerts if any anomalous activity is detected.
For any business that operates online, SIEM should be one of their core tools to prevent their online assets from falling prey to hackers.
7. Outsource a Data Protection Officer
If your business involves the data of EU-based customers, you need to pay attention to GDPR compliance.
Short for General Data Protection Regulation, GDPR is designed to grant EU citizens more control over their sensitive data online.
Relying on an in-house or outsourced DPO — short for Data Protection Officer — is also a crucial step towards GDPR compliance. Their role involves the systematic monitoring of data items, training staff, conducting security audits, and ensuring important compliance requirements.
For all business owners, it is important to prioritize online security and privacy. If your business is not secured well, you could end up paying a heavy price for it.
Online security is a very complicated issue. Follow the tips mentioned in this article to keep hackers away from disrupting your business.
Got more tips to improve your business’ online security? Feel free to mention them in the comments section.