Though it may not be capturing headlines, one of the gravest threats most businesses face remains security. Since so much business is conducted online, cyber attacks are a growing threat, and one that can be especially crippling for startups operating on limited resources. Here are just a few strategies to keep in mind when considering security measures for your business.
Consider Everyone a Potential Threat
This may sound like outright paranoia, but it remains a fact that we’re living in an age of zero trust in the motives of our fellow humans in cyberspace. This is for a very good reason. With remote work expanding and online mobile applications becoming standard tools for business, the web has become a target-rich environment for criminals.
The ability to break into systems is no longer limited to a hacking elite either, as artificial intelligence programs have finally become sophisticated enough to carry out targeted and automated attacks with minimal programming skills required to control them. Start with the assumption that you’re going to be attacked at some point. Next, stay calm and think proactively about what countermeasures you need.
Install Serious Antivirus Software
The most important (and simplest) way to counter digital threats is by installing high-quality antivirus programs and firewalls on all of your business devices. These defenses are by no means perfect, but they’re a good start, and they come in many levels of sophistication and cost. Optimize your antivirus software against malware and phishing attacks, as these are by far the most common forms of cyber crime against small businesses. Make sure to constantly and regularly update your software, especially when a new security patch comes out.
Create Multiple Backups of Your Data
According to a 2017 study by the acclaimed research company Ponemon Institute, data breaches cost an average of $141 per record compromised. Even more troubling is the fact that malicious attacks are only the largest of three major causes of data loss, the other two being system glitches and human error. One of the most important things to remember in countering data loss is to back up your data in multiple formats.
Just backing it up in the cloud really isn’t enough. Store copies of sensitive information on a flash drive and keep it in a secured location. Old-fashioned hard copies of the most sensitive documents are also good to have around. Be sure not to overlook hardware issues either. Regular maintenance and the installation of surge protectors can stop data loss due to simple mechanical error.
Test Your Defenses
Sometimes it’s a good idea to call in the experts. In the case of cyber security, those experts are often hackers themselves. Ethical hacking is now a major industry. Ethical hacking is what it’s called when experts who are skilled in circumventing security and compromising systems are hired to do just that…in a controlled and legal way, of course. Often, they’re able to find loopholes and exploits that people who are focused solely on system defense and administration would never even think to look for.
Level Up Your Physical Security
Don’t underestimate the value of good physical security in preventing cyber crime. No amount of fancy software will prevent a burglar from simply breaking in and stealing your devices. Lock everything down before you leave the office. Never dispose of sensitive documents without completely shredding them and definitely don’t write down passwords.
There’s a second reason to be concerned about building security: According to the 2019 Global Data Exposure Report, half of all companies that experienced cyber attacks said that the culprit was likely an insider. Closed-circuit cameras can help catch thieves in the act, but nothing beats creating a positive work culture that keeps everyone loyal to the company.
Having a solid plan in place for the defense of your business makes responding proactively to security threats a more straightforward process. Keep yourself in the loop about both the threats you face online, as well as the solutions to them, and your business will thrive in the information age.