Five Cybersecurity Tips for Small Businesses & Startups
Starting a new business or keeping a small business financially viable is hard at the best of times, but it’s even more difficult in the current climate. The global economy has seen better days, consumers are spending less, and B2B customers are cutting back on non-essentials.
Additionally, the COVID-19 crisis has proven to be a “gift for cyber criminals”, as the Financial Times noted. Along with a 6,000 percent rise in the number of pandemic-inspired scams and malware programs making the rounds, there has been a steep rise in the number of cyber attacks aimed at small businesses and startups.
In fact, Forbes notes that small and fledgling businesses may be more likely to be targeted than larger enterprises because cyber criminals assume poor cyber security. Unfortunately, they are often right; many small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) lack a solid cyber security strategy.
To survive, established SMEs and startups need to pay heed to security. With that in mind, here are five simple and actionable tips to keep your business secure.
1. Use a VPN Service
A VPN service is one of the best ways you can quickly start securing your company’s online activity. VPN is short for Virtual Private Network, and these tools do exactly that: create a private network that shields internet activity and data transmissions from prying eyes. In the process, VPNs also encrypt data, so even if any activity is discovered, threat actors can do very little with the information they find as decoding is next to impossible.
2. Establish Protocols
Make cyber security a key part of your company’s culture. Ensure that each staff member knows that security is everyone’s job, not just the IT department’s responsibility. Training programmes can help instil good security practices in your employees and ensure the basics (proper passwords, signing out of accounts, not opening suspicious links etc.) are adhered to.
3. Prevent Phishing
Phishing remains such a common attack vector precisely because it works well. Human error is the leading reason companies fall victim to cyber attacks, and phishing is often the vehicle. Use email scanners to weed out as much junk and spam emails as possible before they reach your employees and minimise the chances of a staff member opening something they think is legitimate.
4. Limit BYOD Culture
Your staff may not like it when you ask them to stop using personal devices for work, but you could be doing your company a big favour. Bring your own device culture represents a security threat because a business has no way of ensuring that staff devices are virus-free. From a staff member’s smartphone to your company’s online systems is just a hop, skip, and jump for a digital nasty.
5. Use a Full Suite of Cyber Security Tools
Besides VPNs and email scanners, your company should also consider enterprise-level firewalls, antivirus and antimalware software, and DNS protection as standard.
It might prove to be a hard year to be in business, but if startups and SMEs can secure their digital systems against the increased cyber security threat level, we could see the startup scene bouncing back into top form.
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