As a small business the phrase “cyber security” may seem overwhelming or scary. After all, our businesses aren’t based online so why do I need to worry about cyber security? If this pandemic has taught us 1 thing, it is that we are integrating more and more with technology everyday. While our business is not based online and probably never will be, our customers and prospects still use it to find us, research us, and make a buying decision through our website, social media, and email correspondence. This process is only going to increase as the pandemic continues and people change their buy habits.
Even though our business is not based online we still need to use its tools everyday to maintain our presence. These efforts are not to be taken lightly and we do not want them interrupted. That is why cyber security is so important. Even though your business is not based online, once hacked your online presence will be interrupted and all your clients/customers/prospects will stop finding you or worse, see someone else’s message. We all need to avoid getting hacked but we do not have the budget to hire a cyber security team. That is why we created this list of short tips to help you stay as safe and secure online as possible:
- Avoid clicking popups and unknown links. We search online and come across pop ups that ask for personal info. Disregard them! There is no reason to give your personal info to an unknown entity. In addition, we all get emails that are spam or from people we do not know and those emails contain many links inside them. Do NOT click any of those links! Those links are created by phishers trying to get your info and clicking gives them the access they need.
- Use “strong” passwords and change them often. Use long passwords that have a combination of upper- and lower-case letters, numbers, and other symbols. Mix them up in a random order as well to help increase the strength. You should have at least 10 characters in your password.
- Update your devices. Many people get hacked because they do not properly maintain their computer, phone, and tablet. When your car needs an oil change or new tires do you ignore it or bring it in? Your devices need maintained as well. There are software updates and security updates for your computer, software, and browsers that need to be installed. These updates help maintain the control and security of your personal and business information. When you need an update, it can be scheduled for a later time but please just make sure it happens!
- Data Backup and Protection. Back up your data regularly. You should have backups in place in case anything ever gets lost you can retrieve that information. Too often do people lose everything and not have quality back ups to restore their business. Please back up your files in case of emergency – you will be prepared! In addition to backing up your data you should protect it. Basic security systems are not expensive and should be used on all your devices. Companies like Norton, McAfee, and Kaspersky all produce a quality product that can help limit your exposure. We recommend having 1 run at all times.
- Education and Practice. As we protect ourselves from hackers we need to make sure that everyone in the business is doing the same. Talk to your employees and explain to them the risks involved and set up policies so that everyone can assist in maintaining a secure environment. You must also continue to read and make yourself more aware of the best practices so that you stay ahead of the curve and do not put your business in jeopardy of being hacked. The more you know and your staff knows, the less likely you are of being taken advantage of by phishers and hackers.
Cyber security while it has been around for decades is only growing and becoming more important. As our society becomes more and more reliable on technology the need to confidently secure our information and data grows. While the 5 tips recommended here are not a full proof plan of eliminating cyber security threats, they will put you on a path towards making your personal and business data safe and secure. Small businesses have so many hurdles that get handled on a daily basis and dealing with a cyber-attack would crush productivity. Hopefully this can reduce the risk of that happening.