Security 101 for Small BusinessRamon Ray
However, with all of this connectedness comes risk. With each news story about security breaches, business owners across all industries grow more concerned. Even if they’ve put measures in place to protect their servers and devices, businesses can fall victim to knowledgeable hackers. However, there are things a business can do to decrease their risks.
Why Security Is Important
From the server level down, it’s essential that your data is secured at every point of contact. This includes your mobile devices, email exchanges, and payment-processing equipment. If you collect information on customers, you have an obligation to keep that information safe. This includes addresses, phone numbers, credit card information, medical data, and social security numbers. If this information should become compromised, your business will not only suffer damage to your reputation, but you may also be in violation of regulations, leading you to be required to contact every potentially violated customer.
What Needs to Be Secured
At one time, businesses only needed to worry about their servers and computers, with only an occasional laptop computer leaving the office. Today’s workforce is far more mobile. Employees who work outside of the office are now commonplace, making it more difficult to contain the way data travels over networks. Mobile devices have only increased the risk, since they can easily become lost or stolen. Businesses must take extra measures to secure every device that connects to its network through both software and employee education. Employees should be encouraged to practice responsible password behaviors, including setting passwords on all mobile devices.
How to Secure
While many small business budgets may not allow for hiring an IT department, or individual, that can implement and monitor security protocols in your business, small businesses have other options to protect themselves. Security software providers, like Bitdefender, understand the challenges of today’s small business and have created cost-effective, yet powerful, solutions.
At a minimum, small businesses should install antivirus and antimalware technology, as well as server-level controls that allow them to set minimum requirements for passwords and monitor system intrusions. Here are five other quick ways to boost your security:
- Update Critical Software: Constantly updating all critical software is highly recommended as security patches for known vulnerabilities can prevent cybercriminals from breaching the company infrastructure
- Back Up Data: Back up your data in the cloud or on an external device, especially now when ransomware becomes the favorite way for hackers to make money
- Track Employee Devices: Keep track of the devices employees bring into the company network, it could be extremely easy for an attacker to gain access to your network via a compromised personal device
- Limit Access: Not every device plugged into your network should have access to everything even if a company owned device. Access to sensitive data should be restricted to certain users.
- Educate Employees: Train staff to recognize phishing, spear-phishing and other types of online threats. The user is always the weakest link in the security chain
To keep communications secure when employees are connected to servers outside of the office, experts recommend using VPN software to provide a secure tunnel between the device and your office server. Since communications can be intercepted at public venues like coffee shops and airports, encryption is essential.
Security is essential for businesses of any size, but small, growing businesses can be especially vulnerable to an attack. Not only will it hurt a hard-earned reputation, but it will damage an already tight budget. By taking measures to secure its entire infrastructure, a business can keep its customer data safe and prevent an embarrassing data breach.
This article is written in partnership with, and sponsored by, Bitdefender. All views expressed are solely those of the author, not Bitdefender. For additional information from the sponsor on small business security, visit them on the web at www.bitdefender.com/. You can also join them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter at @Bitdefender