Three things small businesses needs to know about network security

What do Microsoft, Yahoo, and eBay have in common? They have all fallen victim to network security breaches. While these are high profile cases on large corporations, there are daily examples of small businesses, from small catering groups to clothing stores, experiencing network security comprises and facing severe financial consequences as a result.

There was once a time when only large businesses worried about network security breaches. However in this modern world, where everyone relies on technology to store sensitive data, no one is safe from cyber threats. This means small businesses are just as at risk of network security breaches as larger companies. Hackers actually often target small businesses as they have few financial resources and weaker online security. According to a report by Verizon, 61% of data breach victims were on small businesses.

You’ve worked hard to build your business and make it a success, so it’s vital that you keep your network secure and allocate a budget towards network security. While there is no way to guarantee complete protection from cyber security threats, it’s important for you and your computer support team to be proactive and take steps to improve your network security. Here are three things every small business should know to reduce its chances of falling victim to a network security breach.

Educate employees

According to information in IT Governance – “four of the five top causes of data breaches are because of human or process error.” It is usually the seemingly innocent daily actions of employees that put businesses at risk of network security threats. For instance – an employee who opens an email attachment and launches a companywide virus. Or, an employee who is researching the web using sites that are not reputable and thus putting your network at risk of cyber security threats.

It is therefore necessary to create a company culture of vigilance and to educate your employees about the risks. This includes things like:

  • Never opening emails or attachments from unknown sources.
  • Always closing all documents and locking computers when leaving their workstation.
  • Choosing passwords with high security strength and changing them regularly.
  • Following best practices in file sharing.
  • Reporting lost or stolen devices to management immediately.
  • Reducing the amount of non-business web surfing and only accessing reputable sites. One solution to this could be to install web-filtering software, so that employees are unable to access sites that may put your network at risk of security threats.  

Make sure that you have security policies in place and that your employees understand these policies. Educating your employees about cyber security threats can help you mitigate some of the potential risks to the network.

Keep software updated

Another common threat for small businesses is outdated security software. An outdated computer is more prone to security holes and cyber-attacks. Cybercriminals are constantly searching for security vulnerabilities and so the longer you leave your software outdated, the more likely you are to be targeted. New viruses are created every day and are becoming increasingly sophisticated. It is therefore essential to have anti-virus software that can be updated regularly, ideally with automatic updates.

Keeping your software up-to-date should be a prime focus in your network security strategy to help protect your business against viruses, malware, and other forms of hacking.

Safeguard your WiFi

Your company’s WiFi network can act as a point of entry for cybercriminals and so it’s important to take steps to secure your internet connection.

Firstly, you should keep your router in a physically secure location with restricted access, such as a locked cabinet. Always password-protect your router, and only allow access to employees. Remember that it’s important to set a quality password and update this regularly – leaving the default username and password will make your router easier to find by hackers. If your business requires a public WiFi for customers to access, then set up a second network for this purpose but ensure that employees only connect to the secure network.

Finally, check your router settings to make sure that any firmware or firewall software is turned on and enabled. You should also be checking your software regularly to see when updates become available, as this will further secure your internet connection.

Final thought

The internet provides huge business opportunities and benefits, but it also brings risks. There are cyber-attacks on all businesses like yours every day, with hackers attempting to steal information and money, or disrupt your business. It is therefore vital to be proactive and take steps to manage these risks, to protect your network security and stop your business from becoming another statistic.

By Ella Hendrix

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