As your business grows, the endeavor can become more and more rewarding. In fact, 1 in 5 businesses fail within the first year, so getting past this milestone can be a huge achievement.
As you expand, protecting your data is crucial, so making sure you have sufficient cybersecurity measures in place is essential.
This guide offers practical insights for business owners like you on safeguarding your data as your enterprise grows.
With simple strategies and clear steps, increase your confidence when conducting business online.
Stay ahead of potential risks and keep your business’ data safe.
1. Assess What Data You’re Storing
When you’re looking to improve your online security measures, it’s vital that you know what information you actually have on file.
Sensitive information can take many forms, including financial records, telephone numbers, home addresses, and more.
Being unaware of the data in your care could mean something slips through the net, so checking your files is a very important step. After that, you can proceed.
Here’s what you can do:
— Assess your data thoroughly;
— Identify types of information handled (e.g., customer details, financial records);
— Understand the sensitivity and importance of each data type;
— Document data location and how it’s stored;
— Consider regulatory requirements and compliance standards.
2. Implement Access Controls
Research shows that nearly 43% of cyber-attacks are on small businesses, so you must control who has access to your data by implementing stringent access controls.
Limit access based on job roles and responsibilities, ensuring that only authorized personnel can view or modify sensitive information.
Regularly review and update access permissions as your team grows and roles evolve.
To make things clearer, you should implement roles within your business and what each role entails.
For example, “Manager” and “Administrator” are good examples of titles you could use.
The role of individuals in each of these roles can differ between companies, so make sure everyone understands what their title means.
It’s also important to update these permissions following changes to your staff. For example, if an employee leaves the company, make sure to revoke their access to your system.
If an ex-employee can still access your company’s sensitive data, this could represent a risk to your security.
This is especially true if they can access the system remotely.
3. Encrypt Sensitive Information
Even if you use password protection on important data, there are still extra steps you can take to keep it safe.
Encrypting information means that, even if the data is taken, the hackers are much less likely to be able to read it without the necessary encryption key or software.
In addition to encryption, using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) is an effective strategy for improving data privacy.
This software establishes a secure and encrypted connection between your device and the internet. It routes your online traffic through a server.
This extra step makes your data more secure, reducing the risk of the information being intercepted.
4. Train Your Team On Security Best Practices
Human error is a common cause of data breaches.
Global ransomware damage costs were predicted to reach $20 billion annually in 2021, up from $325 million in 2015, which is a 57X increase.
In eight years from now, the costs will exceed $265 billion.
Make sure your team knows how they can keep the information for which they’re responsible safe.
As well as knowing how to generate secure passwords, train them on the importance of recognizing phishing attempts and similar scams.
Here are a few actions you can take:
— Train Continuously: Regularly update your team on the latest cybersecurity threats and best practices through ongoing training sessions;
— Phishing Simulation Exercises: Conduct simulated phishing exercises to see if your employees can spot the scam;
— Password Management Tools: Implement password management tools to encourage the use of strong and unique passwords. If they’re using easily-guessed passwords, then the security of your business is compromised.
5. Monitor and Audit The Procedures You Have In Place
Keep an eye on your network and systems. Regularly audit logs and review security reports to detect any anomalies or anything that looks suspicious.
Identifying potential security issues early allows for swift intervention and reduces the impact of a breach. You should also consider implementing intrusion detection systems (IDS) and intrusion prevention systems (IPS) to enhance your online security.
These can analyze network traffic in real time and identify patterns and signatures associated with known threats.
Using a combination of all of these tools can drastically reduce the chances of a security incident. If one does happen, you’ll be altered much faster.
6. Listen To Cybersecurity Experts
Seeking the help of professionals can help improve your cybersecurity measures, but only if you take heed of their advice.
By hiring experts, you’ll gain access to information and advice regarding any threats your business is likely to encounter going forward.
In addition, they’ll also be able to fill any gaps in your knowledge regarding what to do should an incident occur.
Making sure your growing business is kept safe from hackers should be part of your overall procedure.
As well as making sure your employees are aware of what form a cybersecurity breach could take, you should teach them what to do in such an event, even if you just tell them who to report it to.
The advice of professionals and the use of key pieces of software combine to create a formidable defense against cyberattacks, so make sure to use every resource at your disposal.