No longer are hackers only targeting high-profile targets such as large corporations and individuals with a lot of money. Hackers have become increasingly sophisticated and now know that they can potentially gain access to sensitive data from small businesses with fewer security measures. Small business owners need to be just as wary of potential threats coming into their networks as large companies for this simple reason: if your business is hacked, you could stand to lose more than your budget.
So without further ado, here are eight network security tips for your small business to help protect your company’s valuable information.
1. Using Strong Passwords
Passwords should be eight or more characters long, contain upper and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols if possible, and never use real words or phrases which can easily be guessed. It is also a good idea to change your password at least once a quarter and update the passwords of all employees in your company when you do this.
2. Putting a Data Loss Prevention Protocol In Place
This is one of the best ways to avoid losing sensitive data such as bank account numbers or social security numbers. There are many software solutions that can prevent employee mistakes from leading to stolen data, alerting you immediately if an employee tries to send certain files outside your business network. This includes blocking USB drives from connecting to your network and placing restrictions on cell phone use while at work.
3. Limiting Access Privileges for Your Servers and Computers
Hackers will often try the most common usernames and passwords when trying to access a network. Limiting the number of usernames and passwords that employees can use will mean that hackers have a smaller number to try to gain access to your company’s server, which has all your valuable information on it.
4. Using Anti-Virus Protection
Anti-virus software provides another way for outsmarting cybercriminals looking to steal your data. It also provides real-time monitoring, so you know when malware is detected before any damage is done. Updating the anti-virus software whenever new virus definitions are released is very important as well since hackers often use viruses first created years ago but still infect computers today because businesses don’t update their software regularly.
5. Keeping Your Devices’ Firmware Up-to-Date
Most people don’t realize that firmware is in many electronics, and when it’s not updated regularly, hackers can find a way to exploit the vulnerability just like they would any other weak point in your network security. Regularly updating your device’s firmware keeps you one step ahead of cybercriminals who are always looking for new weaknesses to exploit.
6. Carrying Out Penetration Testing Once Every Month or Two
Penetration testing allows you to see if there are any vulnerabilities that could leave your business exposed to outside threats by letting experts try hacking into o your system from the outside. Hence, you know where problems may lie. It also provides an opportunity for making changes since penetration testing often results in a list of network security improvements for your small business. So hire reliable network penetration testing services and make any necessary changes to your system.
7. Getting Rid of Old Computers and Devices
Computers and devices using old, outdated software are one of the leading causes of security breaches. You must get rid of all old computers and devices which haven’t been updated every three to five years, even though most companies only replace their equipment once it reaches its end-of-life. For example, if your company is still using Windows XP software, hackers know you are not likely to upgrade it since Microsoft doesn’t support the software anymore. So they will look to exploit this vulnerability, which could lead to a significant security breach in your network.
8. Regularly Backing up Your Data
Regular backups are essential to keeping your small business data safe. If you have all your data stored in one place and something happens, you could lose all your valuable information. A backup system allows you to restore lost or corrupted data so you don’t have to worry about a security breach turning into a significant business crisis for your small company.
Small businesses are increasingly becoming targets for cybercafes as hackers know fewer security measures in place. However, by following some simple steps, small business owners can protect their networks and data from being stolen.
The eight tips mentioned above are a good starting point for protecting your network from cybercriminals. So follow them and see for yourself how reliable network security can be achieved even with a small budget.