As the average data breach now costs companies around $4 million, it’s essential that you take cybersecurity seriously. For most people who own a small business, cybersecurity isn’t a top priority. However, with the cost of a data breach, it could turn a thriving small empire into a tanking venture in no time.
Here are five items that need to be on your end of year checklist for cybersecurity.
1. Off-Site Backup
One of the best ways to ensure that you’re ready for any kind of cybersecurity emergency is to maintain a backup off-site. If you keep all of your backups in one place, you’ve got a weak backup plan. Your backups need to be backed up in a second off-site location in order to protect your assets.
Having off-site backup puts another layer of security between hackers and your data. If you have everything in one networked location, it means that one device could be used to destroy or to steal all of your data. Keeping things in a second location means that, in an emergency, you could wipe your local system and restore it from an off-site backup.
It also means that you aren’t going to be undone by a natural disaster or a catastrophic weather event. Imagine you’re running a tech startup or a small company with a lot of digital assets and a hurricane hits your region. What would you do if power were knocked out and all of your equipment ended up underwater?
If you had an offsite backup, you could communicate with your data via the cloud. Your website and all of your customers’ data would be protected. For all intents and purposes, anyone who tried to contact you digitally would think there was nothing going wrong at all.
2. Password Expiration
If you’re not forcing your staff to reset their passwords every couple of months, you risk leaving their credentials open for attack. You need to force every employee into creating a new and complex password every few months for their own security. If they’re using the same password for their banking information as they use for their work email, one will unlock the other.
You also need your system to force users to create a unique password every time. Your system should save old passwords to verify that employees create new ones. When you get your staff used to this system, they’ll help you make your company more secure with smarter passwords.
At first, you might have to run a few password training sessions to get everyone accustomed with some simple tactics for creating unhackable passwords.
3. Multi-Factor Authentication
Two-factor authentication in tandem with a strong password system is a great way to ensure that you don’t get hacked. When you use two-factor authentication, you put another layer of cybersecurity between you and nefarious actors
Multi-factor authentication requires that users’ identity is confirmed by having them confirm their identity via one of their digital devices. After they enter a password on whatever site or app they’re using, a code is sent to a registered device or their mobile phone. They have a short period of time to enter that code in order to confirm their identity.
Beyond simple username and password credentials, this added layer of security will alert whoever owns the device that a login is occurring. If the owner of those credentials didn’t approve that login, they’ll be aware that they’re about to be hacked. If they’re the owner of the credentials, this easy step will eliminate the possibility of brute force hacking.
4. Clean Up Credentials
Every few months, you and your staff should be scrubbing the credentials that could be saved on your database. When you save old or expired credentials, you’re giving hackers the option to take over unused accounts.
These could be as simple as default credentials that systems are programmed with. They will often have simple credentials and passwords like “admin” and “1234.” If a potential hacker finds out that you’re using of these devices, they can exploit that fact and start disrupting your system.
Cleaning up credentials across your database also means checking who has access to what. For some projects, you might have extended administrative credentials to someone who no longer needs it. If this is the case, take them off of the list so that if they get hacked, they no longer have access to critical systems.
If you manage who has access to what, you’ll keep your system from being taken over without your knowledge.
5. Update Everything
There are lots of reasons why people don’t update their computers, but one of the biggest reasons has to do with convenience. It’s irritating to sit down to your computer when you’re ready to work and then have to hand it over to an update system.
Many people have also had the experience of updating only to have their favorite tools no longer work anymore. In order to avoid this, some users will ignore critical updates for months and months.
However, one of the reasons that companies create these updates is because of security problems that existed within their previous releases. If you’re not updating, you’re not getting access to the latest changes that could protect you from viruses you haven’t even heard about yet.
If you can’t implement automatic updates, make one day every few months an “update day” where everyone resets their system and gets to work using the latest release of all of your favorite tools.
Check out what the Scarlett Group recommends when you’re trying to implement this kind of system.
Small Business Cybersecurity is Possible
For most owners of a small business, cybersecurity just doesn’t seem within reach. However, with all of the great ways you can outsource your tech needs, you could have high-end security no matter the size of your business.
If you’re going to manage your business’s funds online, check out our guide to the best mobile banking apps.