Owning and/or operating a small business can present budding entrepreneurs with a number of challenges. Maintaining a steady client base, managing a team of employees and keeping a watchful eye one company finances are all full time jobs in and of themselves.
However, in addition to everything else small business owners worry about on a daily basis, cyber security should not be treated as an afterthought. If data thieves, hackers or other cybercriminals are able to infiltrate your business, the consequences can be both swift and long-lasting. Small business owners looking to nip potential cyber security breaches in the bud should consider the following tips.
1. Invest in a Threat Protection System
Investing in a comprehensive threat detection system can be a boon to your business’s cyber security efforts. For example, the Tipping Point Threat Protection System from Trend Micro can shield your enterprise from an ever-expanding array of digital dangers. Tipping Point is so robustly designed that it provides companies with next-gen IPS protection without compromising on security or overall performance.
This cutting-edge system also utilizes machine learning techniques to make informed real-time decisions and block malicious traffic. If hackers and other online troublemakers are frequently trying to find their way on to your network, you’re sure to appreciate Tipping Point’s ability to thoroughly inspect and promptly block inbound, outbound and lateral network traffic.
2. Secure Your Office Network
Taking a few basic security measures can effectively keep a sizable percentage of cybercriminals off your office network. For starters, password-protecting the network is the absolute least you can do when it comes to maintaining security. No matter how small your business is, some cyber criminals won’t hesitate to jump on to an unsecured network.
In fact, certain criminals exclusively target networks that lack password protection. Secondly, you can limit access to your network by turning off SSID broadcasting in the router’s admin menu. However, you’ll need to temporarily turn it back on any time you or a team member wishes to connect a new device to the network.
Thirdly, if turning off SSID broadcasting isn’t an option, make a point of changing your default network name to something inconspicuous. Most default network names reveal the router’s maker and model number, and this is information you don’t want falling into the hands of cybercriminals.
By extension, you should also change your router’s default log-in credentials. If a dedicated cybercriminal is able to ascertain your router’s manufacturer info, they can easily look up the aforementioned credentials.
Once new passwords and log-in credentials have been created, you’ll need to take measures to protect them. This means only sharing them with team members who absolutely require access to them and enforcing strict policies on sharing office passwords with third parties.
For maximum security, take care to change your most sensitive passwords on a semi-regular basis. In addition, place limits on which work devices can be taken out of the office.
3. Establish a Culture of Security
A team is only as strong as its weakest member. As such, if your entire staff isn’t onboard with your business’s cyber security policies, problems are likely to occur. You can help prevent staff security slipups by fostering a culture of security within your enterprise.
This entails educating employees on proper security practices, as well as what can happen when they’re not adhered to. Furthermore, employees who are unclear on certain rules or have ideas for improving upon existing policies should be encouraged to come see you.
While few small business owners relish having to reprimand employees, there may be no way around doing so if established security policies are consistently ignored. This isn’t to say that you’ll need to fire anyone or suspend team members without pay, but imposing actionable consequences on repeat offenders is sometimes the only way to encourage compliance.
As any seasoned entrepreneur can attest, small business ownership is essentially a series of full time jobs. Although most small business owners have their work cut out for them, cyber security is something that cannot be put on the backburner.
Of course, this isn’t to say that maintaining good cyber security practices has to be particularly costly or challenging. Armed with the previously discussed pointers, you can protect your enterprise from the machinations of cyber criminals and ensure your business’s long-term cyber safety.
Sam Makad is a business consultant. He helps small & medium enterprises to grow their businesses and overall ROI. You can follow Sam on Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin.