Securing our businesses from malicious hackers should always be top of mind, and although you may think you’re less likely to get hit by a cybersecurity attack because you’re not a multi-million dollar company, the reality is that you’re actually more likely to suffer an attack.

According to the 2019 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report, 43 percent of data breaches involved small business victims. I find small businesses often have lax security policies in place, making them easier targets and low-hanging fruit for talented hackers.

Before you panic, I’ve come up with six basic security measures you can take to halt the hackers and keep them from wreaking havoc on your business.

#1: Implement Cloud Security

Let’s start with the foundation. A cybersecurity plan is very important; you need a system and expert personnel, or outsourced tech help, to secure and protect your data, 24/7. That’s the exact duty of a cloud service provider.

By tapping into cloud security, you have full control of your data on a local server. Find a reputable company to protect this data, using their expertise of the latest cybersecurity tactics to keep you safe. At SBS Accounting & Advisors, we use Aventis Systems.

#2: Train and Motivate Your Staff to Avoid Phishing Emails 

You may think an overseas hacker is going to extraordinary lengths to break down your walls and infect your small business network. However, they’re often simply leveraging a basic phishing email, hoping a staff member opens a door to your systems by clicking on the email.

This simple, yet effective hacking technique illustrates how important it is to train your staff to protect against common cybersecurity threats. You can start with basic practice: look out for phishing emails, employ smart browsing strategies, and avoid downloading any suspicious files or clicking any harmful links.

Then, you can get into the weeds a bit more. Go over password strength and strategy. Adding multifactor authentication is a must. This added layer of security goes beyond the basic username and password, typically forcing the user to enter a code sent to their mobile device to get in the system.

Another reason these security tactics are so key is because many small business enable employees to work remotely. A simple click of the wrong link or file – not under your supervision – can trigger a lingering cyberattack. And, since they’re often using their own devices, they’re much easier to be breached if the devices are unsecured. As a business owner, you can put policies in place for these personal devices.

Getting your staff up to speed on best security practices is only half the battle. They must also be motivated and willing to not only retain the information, but also be proactive and go to bat for you in executing what they learn. The best way to do that is to empower them with more responsibility by task delegation, for example, as well as a bonus or just genuine praise when they perform admirably. When your employees feel good about the work and the impact they’re making, they’re much more likely to represent the business in the way you envision.

#4: Protect Your Paper

At SBS, we are big proponents of going paperless. However, many small businesses still have paper of some kind, and if that paper contains sensitive information, it must be kept out of the hands of hackers.

Despite being so digital today, paper is still one of the easiest ways for hackers to exploit your business. Make sure you have established procedures for protecting your paper. For example, have employees shred sensitive documents in a micro crosscut shredder, or keep them locked up if you must hold on to them.

#5: Hire a Hacker

Hall of Fame football coach Vince Lombardi once said, “The best defense is a good offense.” That kind of approach also applies to cybersecurity. In order to keep the hackers away, you have to think like a hacker – and the best way to do that is to hire one!

Of course, the person must be ethical, and as strange as it sounds, many of today’s security experts were former hackers. The bottom line is to stay one step ahead of the cybercriminal, as well as repair any vulnerabilities. And, if a breach does happen, you have a person in place to fix it sooner rather than later.

#6: Can’t Afford a Hacker? Hire a Cybersecurity Consultant

As a small business, you might not be able to afford a part-time hacker, and that’s okay. Instead, employ a cybersecurity consultant.

This consultant – known as a managed IT services provider – can be called upon, as needed, to protect you and your business from malicious hackers. Beyond that, they can keep your systems running smoothly and quickly, protect your data to remain operable, put in a disaster recovery plan, and more.

Ready to Get Started? We’re Here to Help

As you can see, cybersecurity is one of the most important and challenging burdens for small business owners. However, with some strategic planning and proactive tactics, you can put yourself in a much better position to keep your company safe.

Contact us today if you’re ready to implement these best security practices, or if you have any questions. You never know when these criminals might come your way; you must have an actionable plan and defense team in place for when they do.