6 Ways for Small Businesses To Improve Cyber Security in 2016

Cyber Threats for Small Business

Many small business owners believe they’re immune to cyber security threats. Owners often feel cyber attackers won’t target them because they’re too small to be noticed, yet small businesses are the very enterprises seeing the biggest rise in attacks. In 2012, the National Cyber Security Alliance Study showed that 66 percent of firms with less than 250 employees reported they weren’t worried about the threat of cyber attacks. Almost 60 percent of respondents said they had no plan in place to deal with such an attack, even if it put customer, employee and company data and information at risk.

Symantec, a security company, reported cyber attacks on small businesses soared 300 percent in 2012, as compared to 2011. Small businesses are actually incredibly appealing to cybercriminals because they tend to have weaker security and many use cloud-based data storage.

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So what can you do to protect your business, your employees and your customers? These 6 tips can help you strengthen your cyber security in the face of an increasing threat from attackers:

1. Don’t Rely On the Firewall Alone

Many small business leaders believe a firewall is adequate protection, but with the growing complexity of digital connections, this no longer holds true. Most technology experts believe breaches are inevitable, but you can take more steps to protect data when that does happen.

2. Train Employees On Risks

Employees are often the first line of defense when it comes to protecting data, yet they’re also uninformed in many instances about how to keep threats at bay. Create training programs and invest in outside training that will strengthen your employees’ understanding of how to prevent attacks.

3. Know Your Data

You can’t really protect your business data if you don’t know what it is. Identify all areas of data your company is charged with protecting and then work on segmented ways to protect each area. With a segmented approach to security, if there is an attack the impact will be lessened.

4. Maintain Rigid Mobile Security

Many businesses are increasingly permitting employees to follow a BYOD policy—Bring Your Own Device. What this means is employees are using their personal smartphones and tablets for business purposes. While this may be the way of the future, it can also pose security risks because it’s harder to manage the data and information being stored and passed through these devices. Protect against potential threats by restricting access to the most essential information and systems of your business. If your small business has the means, you might also consider requiring employees to use a centrally-controlled system so that information can be wiped remotely if a device is stolen or lost. There should be defined procedures in place in the event a device is lost or stolen, so everyone knows how to promptly and effectively handle the situation.

5. Watch the Wi-Fi

This is an easy area to control, yet it frequently goes under the radar for small businesses. Ensure your Wi-Fi network is not only secured but also encrypted and hidden. You can easily set up hidden Wi-Fi systems using your router and also, add password protection to your router.

6. Limit Employee Access

Ensure employees can access only the data and information that is a necessity for their position or function. The more access employees are given, the more potential for attacks is floating around. Keeping it on a need to know basis will allow small business owners to maintain tighter and more streamlined control of their IT security.

The Future of Small Business Cyber Security

This will be an issue that will continue to be at the forefront for small businesses, and will likely grow in importance, particularly as cyber attacks become more sophisticated and more focused on small business targets. 2016 is the perfect time to become not only vigilant but proactive in your efforts to protect your company from outside threats.

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