Security for Online Businesses: Top Tips to Keep in Mind
⏱ Reading Time: 8 minutes
Over the years, technology has become integral to the workplace. However, while it offers many enticing benefits, it has also exposed online businesses to a heightened risk of cybercrimes. Online security has become a must! Not convinced? Consider this: more than 4,000 ransomware attacks have occurred daily since 2016. And that’s in the United States alone!
Understandably, online business owners have become increasingly vigilant about online security. Online security is a broad term that describes the strategies and steps an individual or business puts in place to secure and protect their computers and networks connected to the internet.
If you have an online business, you must include your online security in your business planning. If your company uses the internet one way or another (i.e., social media, publishing content, emailing, etc.), you must know how to keep your information, assets, and business safe.
Top Ways to Secure Your Online Business
At first, glance, protecting your business online can seem like a daunting and overwhelming task. However, it is reassuring to know there is no shortage of practical ways you can protect your business against ever-present online security threats:
Acknowledge That You Are a Target
Complacency is considered one of the top reasons a business becomes a cybercrime victim. While unfortunate to note, many companies make the mistake of believing their business is too small for hackers to mess with. However, hackers are aware of this kind of mentality. That said, it is recommended that you assign someone to be in charge of setting up your security systems and oversee your network administration.
Ensuring there is a culture of awareness in the company is also crucial. In other words, all employees need to know and understand how to protect the company against a cyberattack. If unsure if everything is secure, investing in the help of a security consultant is a worthwhile investment. Again, it pays to keep in mind that even if your online business is small, no one is immune from security breaches.
Picture 1. Security consultant is a worthwhile investment
Stay Backed Up and Updated
If your computer system has been using the same settings since you first started, consider changing them. Figuring out the usernames and passwords is one thing hackers can quickly figure out and can use to access your system. Not changing your logins can be likened to handing hackers a free pass.
Operating systems using obsolete software and security safeguards can also be used as an easy way to access your system. It’s a no-brainer that you need to install the latest spam blockers, antivirus protection, spyware detection systems, etc. It is also recommended that the firewall of your operating system is enabled.
You also need to ensure your WiFi network is secure, hidden, and encrypted. This can also provide robust protection without many installations and maintenance efforts. Also, backing up your files regularly is another precautionary measure you should look into. Fortunately, this task can be automated. Updating weekly is considered ideal.
Secure Your Website
When beefing up your security infrastructure, protecting your business should be your primary priority. Understandably, you need to ensure that no one can steal your data, destroy your business, or compromise your business one way or another. Additionally, you also need to secure your website to protect customer data entrusted in your care.
Many hackers exploit website scripts and codes and use them to access your system. In most cases, websites are rife with weaknesses unless the security system has audited them. Attacks that target customers directly or indirectly can also be disastrous for your company.
Keep an Eye On Your Employees
This might not be common knowledge but employees are considered one of the most prevalent sources of security breaches. That said, it is recommended that employees should only be given access to information they need to carry out their jobs. In other words, no employee should be able to access all data systems.
Employees should also be required to get permission before any software is installed on the computers used at work. Locking up work laptops when not in use is recommended. Also, security breaches can occur accidentally, so no matter how small your business is, it is ideal that all the employees are trained on security.
It is also recommended that strong passwords should be used. Using the internet at work for personal matters might also lead to breaks. That said, a clear internet and email policy should be strictly followed. Opening of links or attachments from unknown senders should be prohibited.
It is also crucial that employees are aware that attacks don’t have to be web-based. At times, hackers can also impersonate employees on the phone to acquire account information and passwords from IT help desks.
Picture 2. Your employees should be aware of online security risks
Do “Remote” Accordingly
Work-from-home setups have experienced massive popularity in recent years. While this setup has no significant impact on employee productivity, it has compromised security dramatically. If anything, it is crucial to ensure robust security measures are in place when employees are working remotely.
Ensure you have a robust firewall system, especially when employees use the company network while working from home. Using a virtual private network (VPN) is also ideal for encrypting internet traffic, protecting data, and securing all remote computers. A VPN will also check for viruses and update software consistently.
Another good idea would be to require that another password be used for remote access. Employees should also be prohibited from connecting to public wireless networks and submitting sensitive information or performing business transactions using public WiFi.
Manage Your Risks Properly
Vulnerability to cybercrime can be minimized using some low-tech precautions. While they can require effort and time, you can do them without expert help. Managing your risk should start by being aware of all your business’s data—from seemingly trivial to valuable ones.
You need to record where data is stored, who has access to it, and if it is connected to the internet (this makes them more vulnerable to breach). From there, you should discern data that needs to be backed up and data that needs to be moved to a safer place. It would also be good to have a stand-alone and dedicated computer for banking activities and payroll programs.
Consider the Cloud
Security is just as important to small businesses as it is to established corporations. However, for small and new players, it can sometimes be too much to take on. This is where cloud-based services can come in handy. The cloud is considered a godsend to anyone who does not have the staff, time, or funds to monitor and install security systems.
Subscribing to a cloud service allows you to hand over data-security duties to companies specializing in handling these things. It is also an easy way for employees to access data remotely. However, it is crucial to limit and control access to the cloud account. Cloud services can also be used to monitor the internet use of employees.
It is important to remember that having a cloud service won’t make you invincible to attacks. You need to be vigilant to ensure your business or any data left in your care is not compromised. Also, experts recommend that you backup your data both on the cloud and hard drive.
Picture 3. Have a backup of your files on different storage
Be Quick to Respond and Report
When your business experiences a cyberattack, ensure you take action as soon as possible. Quarantine any equipment that might be infected and notify contacts, business partners, and other contacts affected by the attack. Also, determine if payment information of customers has been compromised.
If you don’t have an IT staff who can take care of things, hiring a professional that can analyze the problem and safeguard your system from further attacks is the next best thing. Reporting the incident to authorities right away is also a must.
Securing your system from online attacks can seem like a daunting and overwhelming task. However, it is considered a must in today’s technology-driven world. Start with the tips laid out above and make tweaks when needed until you find an online security practice that works best for you.
Sarah Munn is the Outreach Manager of Phoenix Web Design, a web design company based in Phoenix, Arizona that specializes in creating bespoke and responsive websites that will surely grab people’s attention. When not writing content, she spends time with her grandparents and giving back to the community.
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