Cyber Security Protection Methods for Small Businesses
Cyber Security is the VIP treatment that your small business deserves. It’s like having a bouncer at your digital storefront who makes sure only the cool customers get in and the pesky cyber troublemakers stay out. No matter what size your business is, you need to look into Cyber Security protection methods.
Have you seen the ‘Tinder Swindler?’
It’s a shocking documentary that focusses on a group of women who were the victims of a con man they met on Tinder. Having collectively been conned out of millions of dollars, they came together in an attempt to hunt him down.
Simon Leviev, the alleged criminal, conned his victims out of more than $10 million.
At the time, it seemed like a very unique case. But, cybercrime, in all its forms, is much more common than we think.
In fact, 52% of all UK crime now happens online.
And it’s not about to get better. In fact, experts expect cybercrime damages to reach $10.5 trillion per year by 2025.
This can only mean one thing for business owners. We need to prioritise having a cyber security strategy.
Because without a cyber security strategy, you and your business cannot defend yourself from cyber threats, leaving you vulnerable to malicious fraudsters, who could identify your business as an easy target.
I was shocked by the statistics above (still am…) So, with the help of a few friends, I decided to dig into how businesses can protect themselves against cybercrime.
5 tips to avoid cybercrime
1. Set up two-factor authentication for everything
I know, I know…
It’s a bit of a pain to have two-factor authentication, and especially when you’re in a hurry. You just want to log in as fast as possible and get your work done, right?
Just as the name suggests, two-factor authentication relies on a user providing a password as the first factor and a second, different factor such as a security question on a second device.
It might take an extra minute of your time to verify yourself through two-factor authentication, but in the grand scheme of things it’s a REALLY small price to pay.
Here are two reasons why you need two-factor authentication:
Safeguarding your Personal Information
Online accounts usually contain lots of personal information. It could be financial details or any other confidential data. By enabling two factor authentication, you add an extra safeguard against unauthorised access to your valuable assets.
Two factor authentication is an important cyber security method for a small businesses because it helps you to stay protected against unsolicited access to your data, prevent identity theft, and ensure the confidentiality of personal information.
Stop Password-Based Vulnerabilities
Passwords have a lot of inherent vulnerabilities. Many of us reuse passwords across multiple accounts, choose weak passwords, or fall victim to phishing attacks. Two factor authentication helps to reduce or stop these vulnerabilities. It introduces a separate factor completely independent of your passwords.
2. Take Care of your Passwords
Ask around! Many of us have had the same passwords for decades. The passwords are either the same across different softwares, or just slightly remixed.
And while it’s great for memory, it’s also risky!
If a criminal gets access to one of your accounts, he suddenly has access to everything.
Here are two tips to make sure you are taking care of your passwords:
Use a Password Check
The site will help you to check if your email or phone has been in a data breech. If it has, the next step is to change that password, and be sure to enable two-factor authentication this time.
Use a Proper Password Manager
Additionally, as part of cybersecurity, be wary of where you store your passwords. The most common place people store passwords is Contacts or notes of their email, which is the first place a cybercriminal will look for them.
Rolf Woodward recommends a password manager like 1Password, which has a business product that is great for helping staff with this. It also locks all these sensitive passwords up in an encrypted vault.
3. Turn off Preview Text Messages on your Phone
It’s pretty convenient to have preview text messages and notifications. When you can access info at a glance, you save a lot of time and become more efficient.
But here’s the thing…
This convenience can land you in trouble.
Imagine that you’re in the middle of a private text message conversation with a friend about personal matters or with a colleague regarding internal business information. You put your phone down to go to the loo or something. Any information sent to your phone while not in your possession is going to be accessible to anyone within view of it. That’s potentially pretty dodgy.
Here are two ways that preview messages compromises your data:
Prevents Shoulder Surfing
Just as the name suggests, shoulder surfing happens when someone intentionally looks over your shoulder to gain information fDisabling message previews ensures that this content remains hidden until you actively unlock your device and open the messaging application, reducing the risk of inadvertent exposure.rom your screen. By disabling preview messages, you minimise the risk of someone gaining unauthorised access to your conversations or sensitive data.
Protects Personal and Confidential Information
Preview messages may reveal personal conversations,, sensitive data, or confidential information like sensitive data or private conversations. Disabling message previews ensures that this content remains hidden until you actively unlock your device and open the messaging application, reducing the risk of inadvertent exposure.
The solution? By hiding the details on your lock screen, you can still know when you have a message, but you need to wait until the phone is back in your hand to view.
4. Be careful with Public WI-FI
In the last couple of months, I’ve heard quite a number of cybercrime cases stemming from public WI-FI.
There’s a lady whose bank account was wiped out, and another who could suddenly not access her mobile money.
The biggest threat to free Wi-Fi security is the ability for the hacker to position himself between you and the connection point. So instead of talking directly with the hotspot, you’re sending your information to the hacker, who then relays it on.
And to make it worse, even if you connect via HTTPS to a legitimate website over a legitimate network, cybercriminals could still snoop on your browsing habits.
So the next time you’re at a restaurant or even office and want to connect to the WI-FI, think twice about it.
If you must use public wifi, here are the precautions you need to take:
Install a VPN
And lastly, make sure that when you’re out in public and not using it, your WI-FI remains off at all times.
Verify Network Legitimacy
You can’t be sure that all wifi is safe for use. But if you must use public WIFI, confirm the network name and credentials with the establishment or official sources before connecting.
Be cautious of networks with generic names like “Free Wi-Fi” or misspellings, as they could be fake networks set up by attackers.
- Disable File Sharing
You need to turn off any software or settings that lets you share your files across networks. Disable file sharing and AirDrop (or similar features) when connected to public Wi-Fi will minimise the risk of unauthorized access to your files.
5. Security Awareness Training
Cybercrime can and does completely destroy businesses, and it can take a couple of years to recover from it. So, it does no harm in spending some time and a little extra money to protect your data.
In fact, it’s a great investment, and an even better cyber security protection method!
These trainings and programmes address the cybersecurity mistakes that employees may make when using email, the web and in the physical world such as tailgating or improper document disposal.
They can prevent data breach and phishing attacks.
Here are two reasons why its important for every organisation to invest in Cyber Security training:
Mitigate Insider Threats
Insider threats are when employees intentionally or unintentionally compromise your data. It poses a significant risk to the organisation. That’s where the training comes in.
It raises employees’ awareness about the potential risks associated with their actions, such as sharing passwords, falling for phishing attempts, or mishandling sensitive data. It helps foster a security-conscious culture and encourages employees to be vigilant and report any suspicious activities.
Protect Organisational Assets
As a small business owner, you have A LOT to lose if your data is compromised. It can completely tear your business down, permanently.
Cybersecurity awareness training educates employees on the value of these assets and the measures necessary to protect them. It emphasizes the importance of strong passwords, regular software updates, secure remote access, and proper handling of confidential information.
The National Cyber-Resilience Centre Group (NCRCG) is a police-led, not for profit Cyber Resilience Centre in every region to help businesses better protect themselves against cyber threats.
They offer flexible membership packages to suit the needs of all businesses with Core Membership being free of charge. You can learn more about them here.
6. Have a Proper Backup
Before you think of protecting your data, you have to first back it up.
I’m curious, how do you back up your data? Most of us rely solely on a cloud backup, right? A proper backup plan is one of the most reliable cyber security protection methods.
Consider an Independent Backup Plan
Rolf Woodward from Woodward IT says that most people these days think just because their data is in the cloud that it is safe. This is not true and Google, Microsoft and Apple do not do backups of your data, so it is important to back all this data up.
You can check out Woodward IT, which offers a Cloud to Cloud backup of Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace for our clients to cover this risk.
Robert Creech of VCI systems also offers an independent G-suite cloud backup. It costs only £3 + VAT per licensed Google user per month. It can back up your Google workplace, Google Drive sync and backup, Gmail backup, Google calendar, and Google contacts backup.
Automate Backup Processes
To make sure that your backups are consistent and reliable, it’s a thousand times easier to automate your backup processes whenever possible.
Use backup software or built-in operating system features to schedule backups at regular intervals. Automation reduces the risk of human error and ensures backups are performed regularly.
Our Summary – Cyber Security Protection Methods for Small Businesses
In summary, cybercrime isn’t about to get better. If anything, the stats show that it’s here to stay. And there will probably be better technology to do it as time goes on.
The best thing you can do is to protect yourself, your business, and your data through cybersecurity mechanisms.
Our top 5 cyber security protection methods are:
- Set up two-factor authentication
- Don’t use the same password for everything
- Turn off preview text messages
- Be careful with public WI-FI
- Security awareness training
- Have a proper back up
We’re always up for a conversation. Get in touch with us for any questions you might have.
Onwards and upwards my friends,