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Cybersecurity for Small Business

Henry Dumas

Theft of digital information has become the most commonly reported fraud, surpassing physical theft. Every business that uses the internet is responsible for creating a culture of security that will enhance business and consumer confidence.

According to UPS Capital, the financial services division of UPS that provides supply chain financial, insurance, and payment services:

  • Cyber-attacks cost small businesses between $84,000 and $148,000
  • 60% of small businesses go out of business within six months of an attack
  • 90% of small business don’t use any data protection at all for company and customer information.

Cybersecurity for your small business begins with digital security best practices, education, and training. Educate your employees with the same best practices. When new employees join your team and best practices are updated, provide refresher training sessions.

10 Cyber Security Tips for Small Business from the FCC

1. Train employees in security principles

Establish appropriate internet use guidelines, basic security practices, and policies for employees, such as requiring strong passwords. Include detailed penalties for violating company cybersecurity policies. Also establish rules of behavior describing how to handle and protect customer information and other vital data. Implement a training program to inform new hires and annual refreshers for all staff. 

2. Protect information, computers, and networks from cyber-attacks with updates

Keep clean machines. Installing the latest security software, web browser, and operating system are the best defenses against viruses, malware, and other online threats. Set antivirus software to run a scan after each update. Install other key software updates as soon as they are available.

3. Provide firewall security for your internet connection

A firewall is a set of related programs that prevent outsiders from accessing data on a private network. Make sure the operating system's firewall is enabled or install free firewall software available online. If employees work from home, ensure that their home system(s) are protected by a firewall.

4. Create a mobile device action plan

Mobile devices can create significant security and management challenges, especially if they hold confidential information or can access the corporate network. Require users to password-protect their devices, encrypt their data, and install security apps to prevent criminals from stealing information while the phone is on public networks. Be sure to set reporting procedures for lost or stolen equipment.

5. Make backup copies of important business data and information

Regularly backup the data on all computers. Critical data includes word processing documents, electronic spreadsheets, databases, financial files, human resources files, and accounts receivable/payable files. Backup data automatically, if possible, or at least weekly and store the copies either offsite or in the cloud.

6. Control physical access to your computers and create user accounts for each employee

Prevent access or use of business computers by unauthorized individuals. Laptops can be particularly easy targets for theft or can be lost, so lock them up when unattended. Make sure a separate user account is created for each employee and require strong passwords. Administrative privileges should only be given to trusted IT staff and key personnel.

7. Secure your Wi-Fi networks

If you have a Wi-Fi network for your workplace, make sure it is secure, encrypted, and hidden. To hide your Wi-Fi network, set up your wireless access point or router, so it does not broadcast the network name, known as the Service Set Identifier (SSID). Password protect access to the router.

8. Employ best practices on payment cards

Work with banks or processors to ensure the most trusted and validated tools and anti-fraud services are being used. You may also have additional security obligations pursuant to agreements with your bank or processor. Isolate payment systems from other, less secure programs and don't use the same computer to process payments and surf the internet.

9. Limit employee access to data and information, limit authority to install software

Do not provide any one employee with access to all data systems. Employees should only be given access to the specific data systems that they need for their jobs, and should not be able to install any software without permission.

10. Passwords and authentication

Require employees to use unique passwords and change passwords every three months. Consider implementing multi-factor authentication that requires additional information beyond a password to gain entry. Check with your vendors that handle sensitive data, especially financial institutions, to see if they offer multi-factor authentication for your account.

What should you do if you become the victim of a breach or attack?

  • Act immediately. Contact your IT team, legal counsel, and cyber liability insurance agent.
  • Contain the breach. Take affected systems offline, but don’t turn them off.  This will allow your IT team to examine the source of the breach.
  • Document every step.  Authorities will need to know these details.
  • Communicate clearly.  Ensure affected groups are made aware of the issue and the steps being taken.

Unfortunately, none of this education and training will help secure your business unless you create a culture of cybersecurity awareness around the office.

Broadband and information technology are powerful factors in small businesses reaching new markets and increasing productivity and efficiency. However, businesses need a cybersecurity strategy to protect their own business, their customers, and their data from growing cybersecurity threats.

Portrait Henry Dumas

Henry Dumas, Professional Certified Coach
I am passionate about helping business owners to stabilize and grow their businesses through one on one executive coaching. With over 30 years of private sector experience helping companies succeed in roles such as Sales Manager, Small Business Owner, Agency Manager, Chief Financial Officer, Public Accounting-Audit and Controller as well as certifications earned as a Professional Certified Coach (PCC), Covey Facilitator and GrowthWheel Certified Business Advisor, I am well positioned to engage, enlighten and empower business Owners.

Find Henry on LinkedIn

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