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6 Essential Cybersecurity Measures SMB Owners Cannot Ignore

Businesses today have become extremely vulnerable to cyber-attacks. These attacks can result in serious damages such as loss of information and revenue, and interrupted business operations. Cybercrime-related damages reported to the Internet Crime Complaint Centre (IC3) in 2019 amounted to over 3.5 billion US dollars.

Only timely cybersecurity measures can help small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) mitigate cyber threats. This involves protecting computer information systems, hardware, network, and data from cyber-attacks.

No wonder, the global cybersecurity market size is forecasted to grow to 248.26 billion US dollars by 2023!

Cybersecurity Strategies SMBs Need to Adopt

Businesses can avoid becoming the victims of cyber-attacks by implementing the following strategies.

1. Incorporate Regular Data Back-Up

Regular data back-up ensures that businesses can recover any information they lose in case of system failures, data breaches, cyber-attacks, power outages, and natural calamities.

SMBs should securely back-up their critical data from each source. These sources include emails, line-of-business applications, client records, virtual machines, point-of-sale systems, financial applications, customer relationship management software, electronic medical record systems, servers, files, and folders.

Businesses can take the help of Managed Services Providers (MSPs) for seamless data back-up. Here’s how MSPs enable businesses to adopt effective strategies in this regard.

  • Cloud-First Back-Ups: Cloud-first back-ups are an efficient way of securing customer data. They enable businesses to maintain a secondary copy of this data in the cloud.
  • Automatic Back-Ups Multiple Times a Day: MSPs also perform data back-up throughout the day to provide businesses with multiple recovery points. This, in turn, enables businesses to retain several versions of their data and prevent any loss.
  • Version Control: Effective versioning is critical when businesses back up databases, devices, and documents. Version control makes sure businesses have greater control over restored files. It also ensures businesses have access to multiple versions of a database or device back-up at any given time.

2. Secure System Devices and Networks

To prevent the viruses and malware from entering your business IT network and corrupting your systems, you need to adequately secure them. MSPs can help businesses with system and network security in the below mentioned ways.

  • Update Software Regularly: Updated software is capable of detecting and fixing the latest security issues, so it is important to never ignore update prompts. MSPs ensure that a business’s operating system and security software are updated automatically.
  • Install Security Software: MSPs install the most up-to-date security software on a business’s systems and devices to help prevent cybersecurity threats. The software includes anti-virus, anti-spyware, and anti-spam filters, and more.
  • Set Up Firewall: MSPs can seamlessly set up a firewall to monitor and regulate the business’s network traffic through packet filtering, proxy service, and stateful inspection.
  • Turn on Spam Filter: MSPs can equip businesses with spam filters to decrease the amount of spam and phishing emails that they receive. Applying a spam filter reduces the chance of employees opening a spam or malicious email by accident.

3. Work on Data Encryption

Database encryption uses an algorithm to transform data stored in a database into ciphertext. The ciphertext cannot be comprehended without being decrypted. Simply put, database encryption protects the business data stored in a database from being accessed by individuals with potentially malicious intentions.

Encryption is also necessary for businesses dealing with compliance regulations such as GDPR, HIPAA, and PCI DSS. It helps them secure sensitive data such as credit card details, social security numbers, medical records, and Personally Identifiable Information (PII).

Businesses can take the help of local MSPs to stay encrypted and compliant with state-specific laws, while also avoiding penalties. For instance, businesses in Detroit can leverage IT support Detroit services for cybersecurity and keep themselves compliant with the latest local regulations.

MSPs leverage a variety of database encryption methods such as API method, plug-in method, Transparent Data Encryption (TDE), and others to encrypt business data.

4. Use Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) adds an additional layer of security over your business’s device or online accounts, thereby making it difficult for cyber-attackers to gain access. The layers ensure that people demanding access are who they claim to be. Even if cybercriminals steal one credential, they will be forced to verify their identity in another way before getting access.

A few examples of MFA technology implemented by MSPs include codes generated by smartphone apps, answers to personal security questions, codes sent to an email address, biometrics such as fingerprints, iris scan, and face recognition.

5. Provide Extensive Employee Cybersecurity Training

Employees are the most critical aspect of a business. MSPs help organizations educate their staff about the online threats they can face, and the major role they play in keeping a business safe. They provide training pertaining to:

  • Their computer rights and responsibilities
  • Their network access and use
  • Acceptable online practices when using email, work computers, and devices
  • Maintaining strong passwords
  • Recognizing fraudulent emails
  • Identifying insider threats and reporting suspicious online activity

6. Adopt a Robust Password Policy

A strong password policy helps businesses safeguard their confidential information such as Social Security Numbers (SSN), staff data, financial details, customer information, and transactional data.

It includes a set of rules which are created to improve system security by encouraging users to create reliable, secure passwords while storing and utilizing them properly. Here are the various aspects of a strong password policy.

  • Password History: Knowing the password history helps businesses set a limit on how often they can reuse an old password. Users are typically discouraged from reusing old passwords to prevent them from alternating between several common passwords.
  • Maximum Password Age: Setting the maximum password age helps businesses determine how long users can keep a password before they are required to change it. Users are encouraged to change their passwords regularly.
  • Minimum Password Length: Determining the minimum password length assists businesses in setting a password of the preferred length. Passwords should have at least eight characters as long passwords are comparatively harder to crack than short ones.
  • Complexity: Every password should be secured as per the following guidelines:
    • Passwords should not contain the username or any part of the user’s full name
    • Passwords should contain at least three or the four available character types such as lowercase letters, uppercase letters, numbers, and symbols

Businesses can take the help of MSPs to create rigid password policies, which include centralized access management for privileged credentials. It helps businesses see who is accessing what credentials and when they accessed them.

Wrap Up

Cyber-criminals are getting more advanced every day. In order to protect critical data, businesses need to make cybersecurity a top priority. From performing continuous data back-ups and encryption to incorporating MFA and training employees, businesses need to adopt and implement the most effective cybersecurity strategies like the ones mentioned above. These are sure to help organizations stay safe, while saving their time, resources, and reputation.

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