How to Protect Your Small Business from a Data Breach

May 11, 2022 by First Federal Bank

dataCybersecurity breaches threaten every company, from the smallest family businesses to the largest corporations. That’s why it’s essential to know how to protect your data from prying eyes. Here are some simple steps you can take to keep your company safe from cybercrime:

Keep software up to date

If you’re handling customer data, the bare minimum you’ll need is a strong firewall, good encryption, and a reliable antivirus system. In the event of an attempted breach, a firewall can serve as a first line of defense against hackers. On top of that, firewalls offer a fair amount of flexibility; since firewalls are easy to customize and reconfigure, it’s easy to stay protected as your company grows, according to Cox Business contributor Chelsea Segal. It’s also a good idea to invest in antivirus software — and update your security software as soon as you’re notified about a patch. Frequent updates ensure you’re protected against the latest threats and vulnerabilities. However, all cybersecurity systems have flaws, and you shouldn’t fully rely on these programs to protect your data — or your company’s reputation. 

Train your team

Not all data breaches are the fault of malicious hackers — your own employees can unintentionally expose your organization’s private data. According to Forbes panelist Gabriel Grego, most hackers use social engineering tactics as opposed to brute force. Therefore, a well-versed workforce is essential to protecting your data. Teach your team about the basics, such as creating strong passwords, keeping private email accounts separate from work email, and being skeptical about email offers. If your employees take computer equipment offsite, be sure that these phones, tablets, and laptops are encrypted and protected by a secure password. And since malware can be distributed in a variety of ways, consider disallowing employees to connect private USB drives or personal devices to workplace computers.

Employ a least-access model

Forbes panelist Moe Adham suggests employees should only have access to the data they need to do their jobs. For instance, a receptionist might not need access to your customer’s payment information or key passwords. It’s also a good idea to limit your crew’s on-the-job internet access by filtering out irrelevant and potentially malicious websites. With these measures in place, even if an employee neglects the information learned in their training, the disruption from a potential breach would be contained and minimized.

Intelligent offboarding

Employees come and go — but don’t let them take any private data with them when they clock out for the last time. Whether you’ve parted ways with an employee amicably or not, it’s a good idea to delete user accounts and change passwords to shared logins. Segal suggests using a password manager, such as Dashlane or LastPass, to help you manage access to login credentials.

Know when to call in the pros

Especially as your organization grows, it can be tough to run your company and keep tabs on cybersecurity. Segal suggests hiring an IT service, so you can have access to seasoned experts, around-the-clock network monitoring, and in the event of an attack, immediate emergency response. Best of all, these services are scalable, so they can grow with your company.

Want hands-on guidance? Consider consulting with a cybersecurity specialist.

Categories: Technology, Small Business

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