For many small business owners, cybersecurity concepts might seem difficult and complex to understand. In reality, though, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

The basics of cybersecurity are relatively simple to understand, and when owners learn why it’s essential to implement certain best practices in everyday business, it’ll make perfect sense. 

To begin, owners of small enterprises should let go of the notion that malicious third parties are only interested in hacking or taking advantage of MNCs and other large-scale businesses.

While this belief might be true for some hackers, cybersecurity breaches often occur in small companies because they’re much easier targets. 

Small businesses run the risk of being targeted without the budget for big IT or cybersecurity departments. However, while it’s a saddening truth, there are definitely many things businesses can do to protect themselves and stop cyber attacks from jeopardizing their business.

Below, we outline some of the most essential things businesses can do: 

Basic Cybersecurity Training 

One of the easiest ways to ready and protect employees from cyber attacks is to provide basic cybersecurity training. Consider working with a neutral third-party company to create a more robust employee training program. 

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Topics for training should include ways to identify and report suspicious emails, recognize phishing methods, and steps to take to create strong passwords. Ideally, these programs should be part of an employee’s onboarding program. It’s also a good idea to do refresher training courses for employees, so they’re kept up to date. 

Some companies have even implemented phishing exercises to test the skills of their employees and allow them to practice what they’ve learned from these courses. Some of these exercises have included sending out emails to see if employees can identify if they’re real or fake.

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Adopt Multi-factor Authentication On All Accounts

Multi-factor or two-factor authentication (MFA or 2FA)  are settings that add an extra layer of security to any account. When enabled, MFA requires a user to input a secondary credential—like a one-time code or fingerprint scan—to access an account. 

Most one-time codes are sent via email, message, or an authentication app. Various service-as-a-software (SaaS) applications for work, like Gmail and Slack, offer MFA services to protect the accounts of employees in a work environment. 

If you want to go a step further, consider signing all employees for a password management system. A good password manager doesn’t just securely store passwords; it can also help generate strong passwords and allow employees to share passwords with one another more securely. Most password managers also admin members to segregate passwords and give permissions to employees who need it most.

Secure All Hardware And Software

As the saying goes, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. This is true in the case of all Internet of Things (IoT) devices connected to similar servers. 

For starters, businesses can secure their Wi-Fi connections to protect them from being hacked by malicious individuals. Besides using only the strongest Wi-Fi protocols, like WPA3 and WPA2, the names and passwords of routers used by employees should be modified, too.

Additionally, companies could separate the Wi-Fi connections for employees and visitors to the office space to make it more secure. Another thing companies can do to secure all connections is with a firewall.

Most routers and operating systems have their own firewall protocols, and while they’re great, they might not always be sufficient. It might be worth investing in an external third-party firewall to protect your company from backdoor attacks, distributed denial of service attacks, and data breaches. 

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Always Back Up Your Files, And Don’t Keep Them In One Place

While it might make perfect sense to keep all your files in one place, it might actually do your company more harm than good. 

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If you’re in the e-commerce industry, consider separating the personal information of your customers and their payment information on different servers. This way, if one server is compromised, it limits the damage caused. You can also do this with emails and customer passwords. 

Make it a point to back up all your files once every few months, whether on a cloud or through a physical server. Most cloud software services also have automatic backups at the end of the day, which could help make this process easier. Alternatively, set reminders on a calendar to manually back files up in the future. 

Update Software Used By Employees

Updated software keeps all sorts of devices protected. A lot of the time, software updates come with patches for bug fixes and irregularities, so it makes sense to want to update them. You can read about them in the release notes of an update. 

Like file backups, most software updates are automatic, but it’s also worth double-checking and seeing if something requires manual updates once in a while. 

With the tips above, small businesses can do a lot to move the needle in creating a more robust cybersecurity plan.