Most business owners think small and medium enterprises (SMEs) aren’t the primary targets of cybercriminals. Unfortunately, that’s not the case in the current business landscape, and assuming that your business isn’t a target can be a costly mistake.
While it’s true that larger enterprises have more data to steal, SMEs are still the favorite targets of cybercriminals. The primary reason for this is their weak cybersecurity which leaves them vulnerable to data breaches. On the other hand, more established businesses enforce some of the best cybersecurity practices.
Given this reality, how can SMEs avoid cyberattacks? Here are 9 of the most secure and essential cybersecurity practices for SMEs today.
1. Install a Firewall
Installing a firewall should be your first step in enforcing a more secure cybersecurity protocol for your business. This software is one of your network’s first lines of defense against cyberattacks and acts as a barrier between your data and cybercriminals.
Because of advancements in technology, you can now place an internal firewall on your network for an extra layer of protection. Having your employees install a firewall on their home network is also highly advisable, especially if they’re working remotely.
2. Use Anti-Malware Software
It’s inevitable that your employees receive phishing emails from unknown senders. While some may be savvy enough to recognize these attempts, others may still fall for such scams. Clicking a malicious link or opening an attachment in these emails can automatically install malware on your computer. That’s why it’s critical to use anti-malware software on all your devices and networks.
3. Secure Wireless Connection
Cybercriminals may compromise your company data through your network. The last thing you want your employees to do is access sensitive files and data using public WiFi. Instead, ensure that your wireless connection is secure by encrypting them with the latest encryption protocols, including WiFi Protected Access (WPA), WPA2, and WPA3.
4. Change Passwords Regularly
Most hacking-related breaches are due to passwords that have gotten into the hands of the wrong people. Usually, these are lost, stolen, or weak passwords. Although it may be tedious to update your passwords regularly, this practice is still one of the simplest ways to protect your data and accounts from hackers.
Make it a requirement for employees to change their passwords every 60 to 90 days. Use strong combinations of upper and lowercase letters, symbols, and numbers for added security. You can also use a secure password manager to keep track of your updated passwords.
5. Enable Multi-Factor Identification
Your employees will inevitably make mistakes that could lead to data breaches. But the best way to avoid compromised data is to use multi-factor authentication (MFA) settings on your company’s primary networks, software systems, and email accounts.
The MFA protocol is simple and adds an extra layer of protection to your data. It also ensures that cybercriminals won’t easily get into your accounts even if your passwords get leaked. They’d still need to successfully pass another authentication method, such as entering the security code sent to your registered phone number, to gain access.
6. Regularly Back-Up Data
In case of data breaches, it’s always best to back up all your important company data, including documents, databases, and financial and human resources files. Even data stored in the cloud should be securely backed up and stored in a separate location.
7. Have Regular Patching and Updates
Owners of SMEs may have a limited budget, resources, and time to keep their software, applications, and network infrastructures up-to-date. But failing to update these programs can make your company vulnerable to cyber risks and attacks that software vendors may have already fixed.
8. Train Employees
Enforcing cybersecurity measures for your SME can only do so much if your employees aren’t equipped with sufficient knowledge to understand the risks and follow best practices. So make sure to train everyone in your company on your security protocols and practices. You must also ensure they’re aware and up-to-date on the latest policies you have in place, as these can change often in today’s ever-changing cybersecurity landscape.
Keep in mind that cybercriminals are always thinking of new ways to compromise your data. That’s why your employees must also be proactive in practicing your company’s cybersecurity measures. Hold them accountable and teach them how to spot phishing emails or calls.
9. Document Cybersecurity Policies
It’s common for SMEs to share their company policies by word of mouth. But since cybersecurity is a sensitive matter that involves everyone’s participation, it’s highly advisable to document your security protocols. Have checklists, FAQs, and other guidelines to help your employees navigate your files and accounts.
With the current state of ransomware in today’s business landscape, SMEs have become highly vulnerable to cyberattacks. It becomes even easier for hackers to get into your files and sensitive company data if you don’t have the best cybersecurity practices enforced.
Overall, the cybersecurity practices discussed above can help your company prevent data breaches regardless of the company size and your resources and budget. Having strong security protocols and well-trained employees are a powerful combination to ensure that your files and data won’t get into the wrong hands.