- 4 Must-Haves to Safeguard Your Startup’s Cybersecurity - December 29, 2018
- The Beginner’s Guide: Cloud Storage Tips for Entrepreneurs - October 22, 2018
Cybersecurity is one of those invisible necessities to your startup. You don’t realize how truly valuable it is until it’s compromised. Do you have a backup plan if your business experiences a cyberattack? Many entrepreneurs don’t, but there’s no time like the present to create one.
While the websites, accounts and network systems of small businesses are increasingly under attack from hackers, there are some simple yet highly effective steps you can and should take to minimize the risk of damage.
Here are four ways you can incorporate effective cybersecurity practices to help safeguard your digital assets:
Secure and limit access
Securing access to your business network is at the heart of maintaining your cybersecurity. This step has several components:
- Install a hardware firewall. This is the first thing you should do when taking steps to secure your startup’s data. No doubt about it, adding a software firewall is also very important, but the hardware firewall is essentially your first line of defense. If you or any of your employees work from home, you’ll want to install a firewall on your home network.
- Protect all devices. Any device that connects to your business or WiFi network needs to be secured. It’s not just mobile phones and office computers, though. What about your employee who uses a personal laptop at the office, or the Fitbit or smartwatch you wear? Apply the same strict cybersecurity guidelines to these devices as well to be sure you are protecting your business from all possible hacker entry points. Follow this simple but highly effective rule to reduce your vulnerability to cyberattacks: If a device doesn’t need to be online or if it’s not in use, shut it off or turn off the Internet connection.
- Make access password-only. Create restricted access to the company’s most sensitive data and systems, and give out the password only to employees who require access to get their job done. Don’t forget to regularly change your passwords, and make sure they are strong. This a critical step in protecting your network. Try Random.org, which generates very strong passwords for you.
Keep everything updated
Your security software needs to stay current to fight constantly evolving viruses, spyware and malware out there. The good news is that you don’t always have to take time out of your packed schedule to do this. Just set your software program for automatic updates at a time that doesn’t interfere with your normal working hours. Also, make sure you keep your web browser and operating system updated with the latest versions.
Back up regularly
Make it a habit to back up your most important files and applications on a regular basis or set them up to automatically back up at a time that works for you. You can back up to the cloud, but it’s best to also back up to an external hard drive that isn’t connected to your network. Create several local copies to be safe, but be careful where you store them. Choose a safe or other secure location with limited access.
Avoid storing sensitive data in the cloud, like passwords or credit card and bank details. Although entrepreneurs are increasingly moving their data and work processes to the Cloud, nothing, including your cloud service provider, is 100 percent hacker-proof. Also, be sure to choose a service provider that encrypts your data. Even though you won’t have sensitive data there, you don’t want hackers to get access to your client lists or other proprietary data.
It’s great if you’ve already taken all of the above steps, but don’t get too comfy. Cybersecurity needs to remain a priority in your business. Stay alert, keep an eye out for anything suspicious when working online, and create awareness among your employees. Write up a document of cybersecurity policies, post it up in the office and send it out to all your employees. Find the time to hold a meeting with your employees to go over any questions.
When in doubt, you can continue educating yourself about how to better protect the business by going through this course from Small Business Administration or checking out the videos from StaySafeOnline. If you have the budget for it, there are also cybersecurity firms you can hire to help monitor your business.
It can be unsettling to hear about companies that experience data breaches, but as cyber threats evolve, so do the security measures to prevent them. Think of these cybersecurity practices as an integral and regular part of your business tasks, like paying your employees or doing inventory. It’s just something you have to do, but eventually, it becomes second nature.