Keeping sensitive information secure is important for everyone but there are some specific considerations required for small businesses. Not only is the personal information of staff involved, but also that of customers, financial transactions, proprietary data… the list goes on and on! As such, it may come as no surprise to learn than cyber criminals often see Small to Medium Enterprises (SME) as easy targets in scams.
Compared to their larger counterparts, SMEs typically have a limited budget, which means that they don’t have a dedicated IT resource for their security system. That means there may be fewer obstacles between a hacker and the payoff of a quick scam to get access to private information and other valuable data.
So, what can you do to keep your small business safe? We’ve put together some tips for best practice in digital safety that can be used by any small business. You won’t need to shell out for expensive consultants – just some time well spent.
Passwords are the bread and butter of security, and it’s important that the passwords you use for all business accounts and devices are not only secure, but updated regularly. Here’s some tips to keep in mind:
Now that your passwords are secure, it’s time to take it up a notch with Two Factor Authentication, also known as 2FA. You may already have 2FA in use with your banking institution. To log in successfully, you’ll not only need a password – you’ll also need to confirm a second authentication factor, such as a unique code sent via SMS to a mobile listed on your account.
You should aim to use 2FA wherever it is available, particularly for bank accounts, cloud services, and social media profiles. The Australian Cyber Security Centre has a range of how-to guides for turning on 2FA here.
Data loss isn’t just potential fallout from a security incident: it could also happen from power loss or other software/hardware malfunctions. That’s why it’s important to back up your data regularly so you can revert to the most recently saved data and minimise your losses. If you’re not sure where to start on backups, check out this guide from How-To Geek.
Of course, your backed up data needs to be protected, too – if you’re backing up to a physical hard drive, keep the hard drive somewhere secure, like a safe. Always do your research to ensure you’re using a reputable cloud storage company.
Even with strong security and regular backups, it’s always best to take time to prepare for a worst-case scenario in advance, so you don’t have to do it on the fly when it’s already happened and you’re under a lot of stress. Make plans while you’ve got a clear head and keep them documented, so you’ll have a procedure to follow in the event of a data breach. You should consider:
Many small businesses take advantage of free or low-cost Content Management Systems (CMS) to manage the content of their websites, such as WordPress. However, some of these CMS platforms may have a loophole that could be exploited by a malicious party.
Many small businesses are operated solo but whether it’s just you or a small team, every single employee should know their stuff about internet safety. It only takes one weak link to open a suspicious email attachment and put your business at risk. While you may not have a HR department to develop formal security guidelines, here’s some great resources to cover the basics:
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