A small business is vulnerable to cyber-attacks and fraud the same as larger businesses. If a small business wants to safeguard its reputation, customer data, financial information and wants to grow at a reasonable pace, they will need to pay a lot of attention to the intricacies of cyber security and online hygiene. Here are some essential cyber security tips for small businesses to follow to prevent problematic breaches, data loss and malware as research has shown that digital loss can often matter more to a business even when compared with physical theft.


1. Keep All The Devices In Check 

In small businesses there can be a few main computers, synced tablets and laptops that are all connected to ‘sharing’ software such as shared documents, a company mainframe or the same database. If one device is compromised such as if it is hacked or gets physically lost, it can cause unauthorized access to take place across several other computers or across the board. The business should take keep tabs on all its computers and synced devices and keep them updated along with having a good quality antivirus subscription for all of them. Even small businesses should invest in tech support so glitches and malware can be dealt with and identified before they are successful in leaking information. 

Schedule updates for all the devices and instruct tech support to reactivate antivirus and firewalls on all the computers once updates have been completed. Protecting against viruses and malware needs to be done proactively as sophisticated hacking attempts thrive on negligence and complacency. If the business is updating to more efficient software for bookkeeping, organizing or customer support for example, there will be an inevitable data transfer so all measures should be taken to prevent data loss during this process. 


2. Cyber Security Personnel 

Small businesses are generally low on funds and having a separate position of a cyber security professional or specialist may seem like a luxury but it is a calculated and very worthwhile investment. Having a cyber security specialist on board means that the business can have monitoring systems in place to safeguard their sensitive information as well as financial accounts and someone will be keeping an eye on access at all times. The cyber security professional will not only install firewall on the computers in the premises but also coordinate with remote workers and provide them with virtual private networks to protect the information they have access to. 

Procedures to double check the vulnerabilities of a business as far as cyber security are concerned such as penetration testing services, can be carried out by a professional every now and then. Penetration testing relates to the ethical evaluation of the vulnerabilities and loopholes that exist across the range of devices, networks and accounts associated with a company. Recommendations can then be made on the efficacy of the current cyber security plan and what can be done to improve it.


3. Sensible Mobile Device Use

Depending on the nature of the business, any number of smaller mobile devices such as tablets may be connected to the company mainframe. Employees should be instructed on password protecting their respective devices, checking log-in attempts, not clicking on malicious links and reporting any suspicious activity to tech support and to not leave their device unattended in any public place. Security apps as well as data encryption should be carried out across the range of mobile devices so transfer from one device to another is difficult to do remotely such as in the case of a hacking attempt. Criminal defense lawyers Jacksonville can draw up a legal protection plan if there is a threat of a major hacking attempt at a business’s secrets or finances. 


4. Extensive Training 

Despite limited finances, small businesses should make a point of investing in cyber security training for all their employees. The training can be carried out by hired cyber security professionals who will start from basics and move to more advanced mechanisms of cyber hygiene. Platforms like Higher Hire are indispensable to find independent or freelancing cyber security professionals and other tech experts for your business. 

Training will create a certain cyber security oriented mindset in employees making them less susceptible to hacking attempts, fraudulent communication and digital negligence. The training material should always be continually updated as new threats are always emerging and the company should have a newsletter or other general mode of notification so that employees can be made aware of the new cyber security threats faced by similar businesses. 


5. A Back Up Plan 

A major mistake made by small businesses is to have all their information on one database or in one source which provides a field day for any malicious hackers who are trying to get into the system. Always ensure you have all your data backed up safely and that access to it is restricted as well as hierarchical in nature so some data is only accessed by the general manager for example but not by other staff. Larger companies may keep physical copies of data behind tight security and this is especially so with trade secrets and so forth that are too valuable to be left on the cloud. If they are on the cloud they are heavily encrypted and in code form. 

Hard drives and other external storage methods for digital files are essential as the cloud itself is by definition vulnerable although much depends on the cyber security strategy employed by the professional the business has hired. Documents, spreadsheets, consumer bank information, company bank information, asset information, human resource documents, and bookkeeping records are all valuable and must have restricted access digitally and using a physical multi-factor authentication method like a physical sign in key is the ultimate protection against someone gaining remote access. 


6. Secure Networks Make All The Difference 

If your small business outsources work to remote employees then investing in a virtual private network or VPN is ideal for protecting company data. Employees should be trained to never use public Wi-Fi networks to sign in to their company accounts and so forth as those are very vulnerable to malware and attempts at unauthorized access.