Back in 2016, approximately 25 million Americans had started or were already running their own businesses. And while it might not seem like your small organization would become a target of a cyberattack, it’s clear that internet criminals know no bounds. In fact, they’re often more likely to zero in on small businesses who aren’t as likely to possess the knowledge or the funds to properly invest in cybersecurity.
Of course, the pandemic has made things worse. Internet crime, which involves the use of the internet to communicate false or fraudulent representations to consumers, hit record highs in 2020. Between an increase in remote work and classroom learning, fears surrounding the novel coronavirus, and a renewed reliance on e-solutions to reduce transmission risks, it’s no wonder that the FBI reported that cybercrime reports quadrupled during the pandemic.
Now that it’s a brand new year, you might have hopes that our problems from 2020 wouldn’t follow us into 2020. But the fact remains that 93% of all online experiences begin with a search engine and search engine optimization drives 1,000% more traffic than even social media. In other words, our dependency on the internet isn’t going anywhere — and neither are cybercriminals. Therefore, it’s essential that you know how to protect your business. Here are just a few tips to keep your organization a bit safer from cyberattacks in 2021.
Secure Your Hardware, Network, and Cloud
From a practical standpoint, it makes sense to invest in better security for individual computers (or hardware), your network, and your storage. If you rely on the cloud to store and grant access to documents and other data, you’ll want to ensure that your cloud solutions are truly secure. You should also restrict access to your organization’s internet network; when on-site, this is easy enough to do, but you’ll also need to make sure that all employees are using password-protected WiFi connections (or, even better, VPNs). It’s also recommended that you require all employees to use a password locker and anti-virus software, at a minimum, and to enable automatic updates for more consistent protection and elimination of vulnerabilities.
Focus on Employee Training
While investing in security systems is a must, it doesn’t eliminate the possibility of human error. That’s why it’s critical that you also take the time to train your employees and establish procedures to follow in the event of a cybersecurity threat. Employees should know exactly how to evaluate a suspicious email, to refrain from clicking potentially dangerous links, and to recognize the signs of social engineering attempts. You’ll also want to stress the importance of contacting the proper point person (whether it’s an in-house technician or a cybersecurity contractor) at the first sign of any potential threat. Make these trainings an ongoing part of work, particularly as you continue offering remote options during the pandemic.
Perform Cybersecurity Audits
Without a cybersecurity audit, you might have to guess where your vulnerabilities lie. And if you’re guessing, you won’t possibly be able to ensure your business is protected. Having cybersecurity audits performed on a regular basis can clue you in to whether there are administrative processes that need your attention or knowledge gaps that could put your business at risk. Cybersecurity audits can be a great preventative tool that could potentially stop hackers in their tracks before they ever have a chance to gain access.
Minimizing security risks for your business won’t be a one-and-done deal. But by prioritizing ongoing efforts to protect your data and employees online, you can feel confident in your ability to thrive in 2021.