In 2018, 39 percent of small businesses were targeted by hackers. Of those, 49 percent experienced system downtime of more than eight hours as a result of being targeted by cybercriminals.
Clearly, it’s not just big companies that are at risk for data breaches and other cyber threats. And, in any system, users are the most vulnerable point. That’s why it’s so important to make sure that your staff are properly trained to keep your system secure and ready to respond in the event of an attack.
Fortunately, there’s plenty you can do to keep your network, and the valuable information it contains, safe. From regular safety trainings to up-to-date equipment and modern security best practices, here are five of the most crucial components of endpoint user security for your small business.
Give Your Staff Regular Cyber Security Trainings
Endpoint protection is typically only as good as the security knowledge of the user, and as with most successful training programs, repetition is key. A single cyber security training is easily forgotten — not to mention, of course, that the information contained therein can easily go out-of-date. Regular cyber security trainings ensure that your staff is well-versed on the latest cyber security practices and that the information stays fresh in their minds. A good cyber security training program will teach your employees how to create strong passwords, how to stay on guard against phishing attacks and social engineering scams and what to do in the event of a breach.
Keep Software and Equipment Up-to-date
There’s a reason why your system keeps bugging you to update its software. The minute a new operating system or other software hits the market, hackers begin examining it for exploitable vulnerabilities. Developers try to stay on top of this by including patches in their software updates that can correct these vulnerabilities. While developers might not always be able to keep up with hackers, you definitely don’t want to leave a known vulnerability in your system’s software unaddressed. That’s why it’s so important to keep your system’s software updated.
It’s also important to update your equipment regularly. For example, your older router may not be running the latest security protocol, leaving your network vulnerable to hackers. Make sure to update or replace older equipment to keep your network safe. Replacing older camera and other security equipment can also go further to protect you in the event of a physical break-in.
Limit Access to the Network and to Sensitive Information
Not every one of your employees needs access to your company’s most sensitive information. Restrict information access to those who need it. Use passwords and encryption to restrict access to customer data, sales figures, vendor information, financial data and other valuable info. The fewer people who have access to your information, the less vulnerable you’ll be.
Nix the BYOD Policy
Bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies might sound good on paper — it could save your company a ton of money if you have employees use their own phones and laptops instead of supplying them. The problem with BYOD policies is that you don’t know where those devices go after the employees who own them leave the premises. Who has access to them? What kind of antivirus protection do they have? How savvy is the owner when it comes to vetting suspicious apps or emails? Allowing employees to use their own devices for work purposes opens as many holes in your system as you have employees.
Have a Plan for When — Not if — a Breach Happens
With almost 40 percent of small businesses experiencing a data breach in 2018, it’s not a question of whether you’ll face a cyber-attack, but when. If you have a plan in place and everyone knows exactly what to do in the event of a breach, you’ll deal with the problem faster and more efficiently. That means you’ll spend less time recovering, so you can bounce back and hopefully retain the confidence of your customers. You don’t want to be one of the 60 percent of small businesses that fail within six months of a cyber-attack, so take steps now to mitigate the damage.
As more and more hackers target small business owners, it’s becoming increasingly important for entrepreneurs, and their employees, to get security-savvy. Don’t let cyber criminals steal everything you’ve worked hard for. Protect yourself, so your business can continue to grow, unhampered by security attacks.