Nowadays, some of the biggest threats to the security of your business exist online. With so many malicious presences out there, you need to stay on top of cybersecurity. Even if you run a small business, this doesn’t automatically exempt you from the various threats online. In fact, hackers may see you as an easy target that does not have the same kind of security measures in place as the larger businesses. A myriad of different strategies exist to better protect your business, but over the following blog post, let’s take a closer look at some of them.
Learn About the Subject
There is a wealth of information available online about the ways in which you can protect your business – and this article provides a good starting point! However, if you want to explore the subject in closer detail, you could always take an online cybersecurity degree or similar qualification. This will ensure that you have a good grounding of the subject and you will really be able to lead from the front on online security.
As this is a fast-moving area, you need to keep up with the latest knowledge on the subject as hackers are always learning about new ways that they can gain access to the confidential parts of your company. So, you should always be looking at ways that you can stop them from doing this.
Shut Out Malware
You wouldn’t think of going out without locking your door behind you, but this is exactly what you will be doing if you don’t shut out malware. Learning about the different malware and how they can negatively impact your business will be covered by an online cybersecurity degree. There are a number of different strategies that work in conjunction to better protect your online business.
A good firewall and antivirus software should be the starting point, but you also need to ensure that they are kept updated on a regular basis and you remember to pay your subscription to make sure that it is continuous. Don’t forget that you need to secure everything that is going to be used by your business including mobiles and tablets.
A single weak point is where the hackers are likely to attack. You also need to put in place a solid email policy that all your staff knows about, as phishing emails and other scams are still an effective tool at the hands of hackers.
Reinforce Your Security Requirements
While you may have a great grasp of your security policies yourself, it is no good if your staff hasn’t been properly trained. So set out your web policy including which websites are acceptable and which aren’t. You should also be wary of anything new that is downloaded onto your company computers. Make sure that you also put in place a policy of strong passwords that are kept updated on a regular basis.
If there is an occasion in which policies are not followed, you need to reinforce to your staff that consequences are going to occur. Sometimes, procedures may not be followed by accident rather than on purpose, so it is worth assigning a designed tech person who can answer any questions and queries – whether this is a dedicated member of staff or someone who works for an external agency. Alternatively, you could make yourself the tech expert at your company by taking an online cybersecurity degree.
Review Your Social Media Policy
Social media is an invaluable tool used by all sorts of businesses, but you need to ensure that you are using it wisely. An online cybersecurity degree will cover this topic in further detail. You need to decide who is speaking on behalf of your business, as well as setting out some guidelines of what can and cannot be said. Some things are bound to be confidential and you don’t want risky leaks to get out, which could end up being preyed upon by hackers.
Your customers could end up sharing confidential information via social media, so it is also important that you protect their data and security as well. You and anyone else using your social media accounts should be wary of any strange incoming links. Be prepared to block any profiles which don’t follow your guidelines or appear to be fake in some way. Remember, when you set up a social media account, you need to keep on top of it rather than allowing it to fall dormant.
Protect Your Business with Strong Passwords
A strong password policy should be one of the cornerstones of protecting your business. While it may be frustrating to have to keep updating them all the time, it is the best way of reducing your risk of being hacked. As a general rule of thumb, passwords should have at least eight characters with a mix of numbers, symbols, and lower and upper case letters.
Again, this is another area in which you have to educate your employees about things such as not writing down passwords and storing them on phones, and not choosing passwords that are obviously guessable. The best passwords don’t use words at all – they feature a random combination of characters that are going to be impossible to guess.
A secure password management system will help you to keep everything remembered. After all, you want everything to be secure, but you don’t want to forget those passwords altogether!
Ask Employees for Help on Policy
Rather than just dictating policy to your employees, it can help to get them involved in your security situation. A huge proportion of data breaches occur due to human error, so if there is anything that you can do to confront this issue directly and reduce the instances of these mistakes, it will certainly help to protect the online health of your company.
The opinion of your staff can end up being vital, particularly if they are qualified in the area and have taken an online cybersecurity degree. Otherwise, you may decide that you need to outsource this particular area of your business to gain further advice and guidance on the subject area. One way of getting your staff to care even more about your business is to offer them shares so that they are literally more invested in the company than they were in the past.
Alternatively, you could send them out on training courses such as an online cybersecurity degree, as this will give them more first-hand knowledge and they will be able to come to you with their own ideas and expertise.
Show That You Are Leading By Example
Human error can become even more likely if you are not practicing what you are preaching and making careless mistakes yourself. If this happens, it will appear to your employees that this is an area of your business that doesn’t need to be taken seriously. So, you could take an online cybersecurity degree as this will demonstrate to your staff members that you are dedicated and committed to this subject area.
When you come up with a new set of policies for your business, you need to ensure that these are properly communicated. Don’t just send them out in a group email which is all too easy to delete and ignore. Instead, make sure that you have a meeting that is properly dedicated to tackling the subject and all the intricate parts of your policy update.
Automate and Simplify
Sometimes, the best internet security practices run in the background and you don’t have to worry a great deal about them. For example, you have the standard scans that your antivirus software runs. Make sure that these are always scheduled. Much of the time, they will not turn over anything much, but on the occasions that they do, you need to be prepared to take action based on their recommendations.
Automate your systems to update on a regular basis. While these may seem quite annoying from time to time, they may well come along with some essential updates which are going to be the difference between your business being secure and being open to hackers. URL filtering is a useful tool that will block employee access to unproductive and/or dangerous websites, so there is less of a chance of your staff stumbling across them by accident.
Establish a Personal Device Policy
The next policy that you need to establish as part of your general business activities is one surrounding personal devices. After all, you and all your staff members will have a host of ways of accessing the internet and these could all act as leaks of your private data if a proper policy is not in place. All guidelines should be clearly set out in writing and signed by your employees to let them know about their responsibilities and commitments.
Some of the areas which this policy should cover include location tracking, internet monitoring, and data deletion. In an age in which many staff members are currently working from home or likely to be in the future, coming up with clear guidelines on these areas has never been more pressing.
It may be the case that you do not allow your employees to use their personal devices for work purposes. Of course, if this is the case you will need to provide them with the tools that they need to do their jobs effectively from the comfort of their own homes.
Back-Up All Your Important Files
When you work so hard to build up a business, the last thing that you want is for a data breach to put your important files at risk. Thankfully, cloud computing has made it easier than ever to keep everything properly backed up and accessible from anywhere without having to pay a huge upfront cost, so make sure that your files are properly protected.
Keep Up to Date with Changing Threats
We have touched on this point above, but it is so important that your internet security policy covers the growing threat that comes from changing practices. Technology is moving at such a rapid rate that a policy you write one day will be obsolete and irrelevant in the years to come – perhaps even sooner than you ever would have thought. Don’t be afraid to make changes to your providers as needed.
For example, if there is a more effective antivirus software out there, you should consider installing it sooner rather than later. It may be the case that all your systems require an update as they are simply too old to be able to handle the latest threats. While it may represent a big cost, you could well find that you lose a lot more if a serious data breach occurs. One of the best ways to keep up to date with the changing threats as they occur is to take a qualification like an online cybersecurity degree.
Choose Security Partners Wisely
If you are going to outsource any part of the IT side of your business, you need to ensure that you are choosing your security partners wisely. Always check their credentials thoroughly and read any online reviews that are available. Ideally, the vendor should have years of experience in the area and will be able to provide you with case studies that highlight how well they are able to protect your specific company based on the clear actions that they have taken in the past in similar situations.
With regards to protecting your business online, there is always more that you can do, but following the basic steps listed above will go a long way towards defending your business against those who wish it harm in any way. Leading from the front and taking an online cybersecurity degree is a worthwhile action that can equip you with the knowledge that you need to defend your company and everything that you have worked so hard to build from the ground up.