Top 10 Helpful Online Security Tips to Protect Your Business

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    For some years, many small businesses have been entering the online phase as the internet has become an effective medium for making sales. As your enterprise grows online, it becomes prone to many online security threats. According to research, over 60% of small businesses have experienced cyber-attacks. Half of that number still need to learn how they can protect their business from being at risk of being compromised online. Knowing how you can protect your business from cybersecurity risks is very important.

    The good news is that there are helpful security tips that can help protect your business and in this article, we discuss ten of them!

    Key Takeaways

    • There have been more small businesses experiencing online security attacks than before. This is because cybercriminals believe small businesses do not have the resources to fight back. For this reason, it is wise to have a small business fraud protection policy.
    • Half of the emails sent today are phishing emails, so having an email security strategy is important.
    • Since 2020, many employees have worked from home. If your business is like this, it is wise that you take steps to protect your computer and mobile devices from cyber-attacks. 

    Types of Online Scams for Small Businesses

    As cybercrime on small businesses continues to increase, there is no better time to protect your small business than now. Here are a few online scams small businesses need to know:

    Phishing

    Scammers use phishing attacks to target firms through emails and text messages. Social engineering is one of the common ways scammers get people to fall victim to phishing emails. They pretend to be trusted businesses like a bank or vendors and get victims to provide their personal information to them. 

    Small businesses are hard hit by phishing attacks. If a hacker gains access to the business server, the organization can lose everything at once.

    Watering Holes

    This is not a common cyberattack, but it happens when a hacker targets a specific business niche or individuals in an organization that is in the same department and uses the same website. The hacker will infect the website with malware so that if one of the businesses or individuals visits the website and gets infected, then all the individuals will get infected too. Social engineering also works in this attack. Since the businesses or individuals trust themselves and the websites they use, they will visit them without knowing they are downloading malware to their computer devices.

    Malware

    This is the term generally used for all malicious software. Malware includes viruses, ransomware, spyware, worms, and trojans. Some businesses are not always aware that they have installed malware on their devices.

    Helpful Online Security Tips to Protect Your Small Business

    The following are some of the helpful small business protection strategies you should apply to protect your business:

    • Choose a secured hosting server
    • Follow the best email security practices
    • Keep your software up-to-date
    • Backup your computer frequently
    • Protect your computer’s network
    • Secure all your Wi-Fi networks
    • Have a Firewall Installed
    • Use advanced mobile security protection
    • Teach your employees about cybersecurity

    Choose a Secured Hosting Server

    You cannot successfully run your small business online without having a website. Having a great design and features means nothing if you don’t choose a secure hosting server. You need to ensure that you choose the best web hosting server provider available for your website.

    The best web hosting server provider must be PCI compliant. This way you can be sure that your website’s payments and check-out system are well-secured from fraudsters or hackers who look for loopholes to exploit.

    You might be tempted to go for a free hosting server, however, there are many risks associated with this that make it a bad idea. Aside from the fact that you will share the server with numerous users, a free hosting solution comes with online security risks. If you wish to protect your customer’s important information and data, do not go for free hosting.

    Make sure you choose a hosting provider that will offer an SSL certificate for your website. This will automatically mark your site with https which means the hypertext transfer protocol secure. The SSL certificate ensures that all interactions between your website and its user’s browser are encrypted.

    Follow the Best Email Security Practices

    As many as a million emails are sent every day. Sadly, only half of these emails are legitimate. The rest are spam or phishing emails. This means that in a day, you get more spam or phishing emails than real ones. 

    Emails are mostly used to corrupt computer files with ransomware. Cyber fraudsters place malicious attachments in the emails they send. When you open the mail, the ransomware infects your computer system. This weakens your computer’s defense system and it becomes prone to more serious cyber attacks

    Some of the best email practices you should follow include:

    • Use Strong Email Passwords
    • Train Your Employees
    • Apply Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)
    • Use Encrypted Connections
    • Backup Regularly
    • Know What Suspicious Emails Look Like

    Use Strong Email Passwords

    Create difficult passwords that you can remember but others can’t. These should include at least lowercase letters, uppercase letters, symbols, and numbers. Do not use personal information like your name, your date of birth, your home address, or your pet’s name. For instance, instead of using ‘Richard001’ as a password, use ‘R!cH@rD0o1’. The more difficult your email password is, the harder it is for scammers to guess.

    Train Your Employees

    Let your employees learn how to identify email scams such as phishing emails. The more you train your employees on email security, the less they are likely to fall victim to such scams. They will be wary of clicking on any malicious link or attachment sent to their emails. 

    For instance, if they receive an email from an unknown sender with a weird subject line, they will quickly trash it. They wouldn’t share important and private information like financial information or passwords through emails.

    Some things you can include in your employee training are cybersecurity tips, password protection tips, etc.

    Apply Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)

    You might have heard about 2FA before. This is an additional layer of online security you should add to your email protection. How does 2FA work? When logging into your email, a code will be sent to your contact for verification. You won’t be able to access your email without inputting the code. This protects your email from scammers. 

    Use Encrypted Connections

    An encrypted connection is inaccessible to anyone who decides to intercept it, especially cybercriminals. A Wi-Fi with a protected password offers protection to prying eyes but not to cybercriminals. If your work involves sensitive information, it is better to use a VPN instead, because:

    • A VPN protects your server connection from interception. Even when your data is breached, the person won’t be able to access sensitive information.
    • When you send emails, the message passes through different servers before reaching the receiver. It is when it reaches the receiver that it is decrypted so the person can read it.

    Backup Regularly

    You need to regularly back up your email files on an external hard drive or server. This ensures that you have another copy of the files stored elsewhere. If you lose important files from your email, you will still have them on the external storage.

    Know What Suspicious Emails Look Like

    Can you identify a suspicious email when you see one? Exercise caution when opening email attachments. Attachments are mostly used to send ransomware or malware to your server or computer. Before you open any attachments, ensure that you verify who the sender is. 

    Some of the suspicious emails you can receive are:

    • Phishing emails: These malicious emails resemble legit messages. It will look like real emails you receive from your bank or other firms that you do business with.
    • Spear phishing emails: These emails are targeted to a specific person or persons working in an organization, especially in a department that handles sensitive or important information.
    • Spoofed emails: These emails look like they are from someone you know. But they come from a scammer that hid their actual email address well.

    Always make sure that your staff is well-trained on what email security is. 

    Other important strategies that you should implement include:

    • Not allowing your staff, if you have any, to use their business email addresses when subscribing to non-reputable mailing listings
    • Training your staff to be safety-cautious when they receive links in their emails
    • Scanning any link or attachment sent to your email before opening it.
    • Cleaning your emails and using anti-spam software. Antispam protects your mail from unwanted links and emails.

    Keep Your Software Up-to-date

    Keep your software updated at all times. This way you prevent any online security risk that might occur. Outdated software is more likely to be the target of cyber fraudsters. You need to regularly update your installed software and security programs. You can enable automatic updates to save time. 

    Backup Your Computer Frequently

    One of the best ways to protect important data and your website is to back up regularly. If you back up important information and files on time, you can recover them easily after a cyber attack. Small business troubles recommends that you have a cloud system where you store this important information. This way, even when there is a cyber attack, they will remain safe. Also, if possible, download the information and store it on external hard drives.

    Protect Your Computer’s Network

    Your business is an important investment. You must take the right steps to protect it from cyber harm. One way to do so is to invest in professional security software to protect your computer’s network. Go for reliable anti-malware and antivirus software. Choose a software package that comes with malware cleanup, this helps in locating malware on time and removing it before it causes further damage to the computer.

    Secure all Your Wi-Fi Networks

    Wi-Fi networks are one of the overused internet connections today. You need to protect your Wi-Fi network to avoid security threats. If you own a restaurant, it is wise that you have a different Wi-Fi for customers and your employees. You should also never connect to just any Wi-Fi when using your business computer system or working on anything related to your business. As a precaution, use a VPN if you wish to access public Wi-Fi for work.

    Have a Firewall Installed

    You might have heard of firewalls before. If you are not computer savvy, you may not know what this means. A firewall helps to monitor outgoing and incoming network traffic in your system and it ‘sieves out’ the right network from threats. If you wish to protect your system from threats, make sure you install firewalls on your servers and all devices you use for work.

    Use Advanced Mobile Security Protection

    Although the pandemic has ended in most parts of the world, many organizations still carry out business meetings online and their employees work from home. If your business is like this, it is wise to train your staff, not only on online desktop security but also on how to protect their mobile devices from cyber-attacks. 

    Educate Your Employees on Cybersecurity 

    Even if you get the best security software for your business, it won’t work well if you don’t train your staff on how to use it and the potential security risks that they might face. They might not know about the phishing emails or pop-ups that they might receive. They might also not know how to protect their mobile phones and laptops from viruses and malware or the importance of strong passwords. You are to bring in an expert to educate them on different cybersecurity practices they should employ at work and at home.

    Conclusion

    You must know how to protect your small business from online security threats. These threats can bring your business into financial ruin and you could lose your reputation as an enterprise. With the few steps mentioned above‌ your business network, data, and devices will become secure and safe.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Does my small business need cybersecurity?

    Yes. Studies have shown that small businesses are at more cyber risk. This is because fraudsters feel that they won’t have enough security measures to protect their businesses.

    How can I identify fake emails?

    There are several ways to identify fake emails. Here are some of them:

    • Check the sender’s address. No official business will use ‘@gmail’ to send emails.
    • The domain name is misspelled.
    • The email is poorly written.
    • They include suspicious attachments and links.
    • They show a sense of urgency.