Cyber attacks have grown significantly in number over the years. Among these attacks, small businesses and startups are the most common targets. Factors such as the lack of access control or absence of an information security policy make businesses vulnerable to breaches.

It has become essential for SMEs to remain vigilant. As a business owner, you need precautionary steps to protect yourself against cyber attacks.

In this article, we guide you on how you can protect your business from cyber attacks, free of cost.

Develop a strong information security policy

The first step towards protecting your company from cyber attacks is to develop a strong security policy. Such a policy should consist of rules and guidelines that cover all aspects of the company’s cybersecurity. It is not important to just create an information security policy, but to enforce it as well.

In the 2016 cyber security intelligence index, IBM found that 60% of their cyber breaches involved employees. Even though most of these had wrong intentions, more than one-fourth of these incidents happened mistakenly, when the employees opened spam pop-ups, emails, or links.

This is the reason it is important to make sure that employees are aware of the information security policy. Documenting a formal security policy with detailed guidelines is the best way to keep your employees aware.

For instance, a clause found in most security policies is to make sure that strong passwords are used. For making the employees aware, you can document and pass out requirements such as passwords should be a minimum of 8 characters in length with special characters.

Similarly, a strong information security policy should have rules to minimise risk from the use of personal email, public Wi-Fi, third-party software, and external URLs and links.

Make use of encryption

All data that is saved on a company’s server or the cloud should be encrypted. The encryption of data ensures that even if data is breached, it cannot be used for malicious purposes.

Basically, encryption converts the data into an unreadable format until a specific key is provided to access the data. You can use a software or hire a third-party vendor for this purpose.

Businesses store confidential information about employees and customers such as their credit card information and national insurance number.

It is essential that you protect this information from getting breached in the first place. However, as a fail-safe, encryption should be used to prevent hackers from accessing the information.

Control access to restricted information

A simple rule of thumb for businesses should be: all information should not be available to everyone. This is because it makes your business more vulnerable. The more accessible your information, the higher the number of possible entry points for the hackers.

Sensitive data such as employee or customer information should be accessible by certain people only. This is known as access control. With access control, there are fewer chances of access by an unauthorised person.

This is an important step for securing your company from cyber attacks. You can implement access control by simply defining user roles and establishing user types within the system.

Once access control has been implemented, you should conduct a session to inform employees about compliance with the rules. For instance, you should tell them what kind of access is unauthorised, and who is allowed access to what data.

Update software and operating systems

A common entry point for hackers is by making use of known exploits in software and operating systems. Therefore, the developers of such software provide regular updates and patches to fix known exploits.

Cybersecurity is not concerned with the use of high-end premium software, but rather how updated your software is. It is best practice to always keep your software and operating systems updated. Schedule your systems to auto-update whenever a security patch or update comes out to minimise vulnerabilities.

Conclusion

With cybercrimes on the rise, businesses are now in an urgency to protect themselves. You can improve your business’ cybersecurity by following the strategies that we have outlined above.

Even if you cannot spend considerably on cybersecurity, these free ways will help you protect your business from cyber attacks.

CyberSmart knows the importance of protecting yourself against breaches. If you are looking for more information on the strategies above, or would like to learn about how to protect, contact us to get in touch with a professional from our team. We will help you strengthen your defenses without having to empty your wallet.