A Common Sense Approach to IT Security for Small Business.

The internet is full of amazing websites, informative articles and has revolutionized how we live and do business. Threats come in many types and they evolve in an everlasting cyber battle.

General Small Business Cyber Security Statistics

  • 43 percent of cyber-attacks target small business.
  • Only 14 percent of small businesses rate their ability to mitigate cyber risks, vulnerabilities and attacks as highly effective.
  • 60 percent of small companies go out of business within six months of a cyber-attack.
  • 48 percent of data security breaches are caused by acts of malicious intent. Human error or system failure account for the rest.

So much of our business and personal lives resides online: social media, financial transactions, mail, apps, education and entertainment. We build a 12-foot wall to protect ourselves and the hackers come with a 13-foot ladder so on and so forth. Worse, yesterday’s prevailing advice for staying safe online, such as avoiding known nasty websites or only interact with people you know, is no longer valid. Users have to be educated about new and constantly evolving threats.

Below are some practical tips and advice on how to protect you and your company.

10 Cyber Security Tips for Small Business

  1. Protect against viruses, spyware, and other malicious code. Make sure each of your business’s computers are equipped with antivirus software and antispyware and update regularly. Such software is readily available online from a variety of vendors. All software vendors regularly provide patches and updates to their products to correct security problems and improve functionality. Configure all software to install updates automatically.
  2. Secure your networks. Safeguard your Internet connection by using a firewall and encrypting information. If you have a Wi-Fi network, make sure it is secure and hidden. To hide your Wi-Fi network, set up your wireless access point or router so it does not broadcast the network name, known as the Service Set Identifier (SSID). Password protect access to the router.
  3. Establish security practices and policies to protect sensitive information. Establish policies on how employees should handle and protect personally identifiable information and other sensitive data. Clearly outline the consequences of violating your business’s cybersecurity policies.
  4. Educate employees about cyber threats and hold them accountable. Educate your employees about online threats and how to protect your business’s data, including safe use of social networking sites. Depending on the nature of your business, employees might be introducing competitors to sensitive details about your firm’s internal business. Employees should be informed about how to post online in a way that does not reveal any trade secrets to the public or competing businesses. Hold employees accountable to the business’s Internet security policies and procedures
  5. Require employees to use strong passwords and to change them often. Consider implementing multifactor authentication that requires additional information beyond a password to gain entry. Check with your vendors that handle sensitive data, especially financial institutions, to see if they offer multi factor authentication for your account.
  6. Employ best practices on payment cards. Work with your banks or card processors to ensure the most trusted and validated tools and anti-fraud services are being used. You may also have additional security obligations related to agreements with your vendors and customers. Isolate payment systems from other, less secure programs and do not use the same computer to process payments and surf the Internet.
  7. Make backup copies of important business data and information. Regularly backup the data on all computers. Critical data includes word processing documents, electronic spreadsheets, databases, financial files, human resources files, and accounts receivable/payable files. Backup data automatically if possible, or at least weekly, and store the copies either offsite or on the cloud.
  8. Control physical access to computers and network components. Prevent access or use of business computers by unauthorized individuals. Laptops can be particularly easy targets for theft or can be lost, so lock them up when unattended. Make sure a separate user account is created for each employee and require strong passwords. Administrative privileges should only be given to trusted IT staff and key personnel.
  9. Create a mobile device action plan. Mobile devices can create significant security and management challenges, especially if they hold confidential information or can access the corporate network.. Require users to password protect their devices, encrypt their data, and install security apps to prevent criminals from stealing information while the phone is on public networks. Be sure to set reporting procedures for lost or stolen equipment.
  10. Establish physical security rules. Monitor and control who is entering your workplace: current employees, former employees, commercial delivery, and service personnel. Report broken doors, windows, and locks to your organization’s or building’s security personnel as soon as possible. Store, lock, and inventory your organization’s keys, access cards, uniforms, badges, and vehicles. Monitor and report suspicious activity in or near your facility’s entry/exit points, loading docks, parking areas, garages, and immediate vicinity. Report suspicious packages to your local police. DO NOT OPEN or TOUCH! Shred or destroy all documents that contain sensitive information

Protect Your Business

In an exclusive deal for Small Business BC community members, TruShield is offering their Cyber Insurance Package (a $100 per year value) free with purchase of a TruShield business insurance policy. This package features coverage with a $50,000 limit for all combined cyber risk occurances, including incident response expense, data recovery expense, business interruption, and e-commerce extortion expenses. Visit their dedicated Small Business BC landing page for more details.