We certainly live in a digital age; there is no denying this, and any business owner who can’t or won’t see this fact is putting their business at risk. Not only that, but they are sure to fall behind their competitors since their customer base will expect digital technology and systems to be in place.
Of course, simply switching to a digital-only (or mainly digital) way of working is not without its risks. Cybersecurity, for example, is something that every business owner has to take very seriously; data can easily be stolen, and if that data contains sensitive information (such as banking details, social security numbers, or customer addresses, for example), it could lead to huge problems. Your business might even have to fold, and at the very least, your reputation will be damaged, which will lead to a loss of money and customers.
Data is something you need to protect at all times, and as your business grows, you’ll be gathering more and more of it. Although no business is immune to a cybercriminal’s advances, those that are doing well and gaining customers are at particular risk because there is more to be stolen; it makes going after them a worthwhile endeavor.
Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security by assuming there is only one way for a hacker to get into your system, and because you’ve put a firewall or antivirus software in place, you’re now safe; there are dozens of different things a cybercriminal can and will try to get to your sensitive data, and they will continue to try until they are sure there is no point in continuing.
This is an unpleasant thought, but it’s one that can’t be ignored. Luckily, there are a number of different things you can do to protect your business and its data at all times. It will take some work to put it all together and it is an ongoing task to keep yourself and your business protected, but if you can do this, you will be able to grow without any hindrance. With that in mind, here are some of the best ways to ensure your business is protected at all times.
Educate Your Employees
You need your employees to run your business; you’ve reached a point where you can no longer do everything by yourself. You hired them on the basis of their skills, knowledge, experience, and their qualifications. However, did you ask them about how much they know regarding cybersecurity? It is unlikely that it was a question that came up in the interview, unless, of course, they were being interviewed for an IT role, perhaps.
The problem is that as much as you might need your staff to help you grow your business and ensure your customers are happy, those same employees are also a source of potential problems when it comes to keeping your business safe. They might accidentally click on a suspicious link, or they might open an attachment that allows a virus to spread to your network. They might not have strong passwords, or they could even take important information home with them and either lose it or allow it to be seen in some way. There are many ways that an unwitting employee can cause a security issue within your business.
Therefore, the best thing you can do is to train your team to look out for the signs of a cybersecurity issue and to make sure they are aware of the measures they need to put in place to reduce the chances of anything untoward happening in the first place. Education is vital for employees, and training them in all aspects of your business and their work will help them feel more trusted and appreciated, which helps them to become loyal, hardworking team members. So, if you’re training your team already, adding information about cybersecurity is a crucial further step to take.
You can outsource this training to experts if you prefer, but you might also want to consider doing it yourself. The reason for this is that it will give you a chance to learn more about the subject first, giving you a better understanding of not just what has to be done but also why. If you’re not sure where to start, the SBU Online cybersecurity masters program is a great option.
You can put many different elements in place to protect your business. You might have a firewall, strong passwords, and employees with a good understanding of how to keep your business protected. Yet hackers can still potentially get through; or at least, you must work under the assumption that they can. Assuming everything is fine because you’ve done your homework regarding how to keep your business safe from a cybersecurity threat means you’re no longer being vigilant, and that could be where your biggest mistake lies.
At this point, you might be wondering what else you could possibly do to keep the important data within your business safe. Can there be anything else? The answer, as you might have guessed, is yes; you can encrypt everything.
When your data is encrypted, only those who hold a ‘key’ to it can read it. Anyone else who gets hold of the documents and information without this key – which is what would happen if a hacker got into your system – would not be able to read or use the information they stole because it would be encrypted and, therefore, useless to them. This is why encryption is a great additional line of defense; just in case someone gets through your other defenses, encryption means that they can’t use any of the information they steal.
The best thing you can do in that case is to encrypt every piece of data every time you receive it. You can buy tools that will do this for you, so in-depth knowledge is not needed (although if you are interested, it’s certainly possible to learn more about encryption). In fact, many of the tools you currently use probably already encrypt data as a matter of course. Microsoft programs will do this, for example. Plus, if you store anything in the cloud, that will also be automatically encrypted.
Do A Risk Assessment
Although all businesses will have similar threats to some extent, there are other cybersecurity issues that will be particular to your own company. You can’t assume you know everything just because someone you know who has their own business has given you the rundown on how they handle their cybersecurity issues. You need to look into your own business and make sure the information you have – and the measures you put in place – are working for you. The answer to this is to carry out a risk assessment to see where the problem areas lie and then you can work out what to do about them.
The degree we mentioned above is a great foundation for being able to do this work and understand the answers you get when you ask yourself questions about your security measures. If you’re not confident, however, it’s best to hire a consultant. They will be able to look at the different entry points to your business and ensure you have a plan to keep them all secure and under surveillance.
Patch And Update
One of the biggest problems when it comes to vulnerabilities within your business is out-of-date software. This might sound strange because, at first glance, this wouldn’t seem to be an issue at all – apart from perhaps running less efficiently than newer software – but it can actually be an ideal entry point for a cybercriminal.
The issue with older software is that there is more time for hackers to come up with ways to infiltrate it. The older the software, the more time there is for someone to work on a way in. Once they are in, they can take whatever they want and cause many other issues by leaving viruses behind, for example.
This is why it’s important to install updates and patches for your software once they become available. It might be annoying to have to leave your computer running all night to install whatever is needed, and it’s worse when the updates start when you’re not at your console and when you return, you find you can’t do any work until they updates have completed, but this is far preferable to the alternative, which is to effectively give cybercriminals an easy way into your business.
The next time you see that there is an update available for a piece of software installed on your system, don’t put it off – update it as soon as possible for your peace of mind and for good cybersecurity.
Having insurance is not something that will stop a cybercriminal from gaining access to your data. It’s certainly not a measure to take without doing anything else on this list. However, it is wise to have insurance in place just in case something goes wrong. It won’t help you prevent hackers, and it won’t save your sensitive data, but it could potentially save your business by giving you the means to pay compensation or rebuild, depending on what a hacker takes and what they do with that information.
No one wants to have to use their insurance, and it could be that you assume you have enough measures in place not to need specific cybercrime insurance. However, you never know what might happen, and mistakes can occur. It’s far better to have this insurance and never need it than to suddenly find you need it but not have it in place.