Doing business in the digital age means that cybersecurity isn’t something you can ignore. Small businesses are just as vulnerable as large businesses to hackers, data loss, and security breaches. Here are three important ways you can protect your business from an all-too-common hack.

Educate Your Employees

Informed employees are your most powerful weapon in the fight for cybersecurity. According to experts, most security breaches develop due to employee negligence. This doesn’t mean your employees are purposely doing anything wrong; there are just simple mistakes, such as downloading unknown software or failing to log out of secure applications, that leave your business vulnerable to security breaches.

To protect your business, educate your employees by investing in a training program, bringing in a consultant, or accessing online resources.

Employees who understand the basics of digital safety will protect your business. Training should start with the basics, such as which programs and websites are fine to use and which are restricted; how to set strong passwords; how to send and receive files safely; how to take care of their laptops, if they have them; and how to handle email from unknown senders. The more informed your employees are, the better they will be at protecting the data that is vulnerable and crucial part of your business.

Put Someone in Charge

A small business often requires employees to wear many hats. Your business may not be able to employ a full-time IT person, let alone an entire IT department. But you can, and should, still designate someone to oversee cybersecurity for your business, even if that’s a part-time capacity in addition to their other job responsibilities.

Your point person has three primary responsibilities: to stay informed of major news and changes in digital security, to know the basic requirements for your business to function securely and efficiently, and to ensure that those requirements are put in place and kept updated. This doesn’t mean that the person in charge needs to personally do all the work, but that he or she needs to find the right services or professionals who can do the necessary updates and improvements.   

Use Encrypted Services

If your small business uses free digital services, you’re paying a price: many free services don’t offer the encryption your business needs to protect customer and company data. Free becomes much more expensive when your system is hacked and you lose data and trustworthiness with your customers.

Shop around and be willing to pay for good, solid services that offer top-notch security measures. Your email and data storage should be encrypted. Your wifi service should use Advanced Encryption Standard. If you use cloud-based services, make sure that they use encryption for storing and transferring data, as well.

Staying secure in digital terms can be confusing, but ignoring the potential threats can be devastating for a small business. If you feel overwhelmed by the options, seek out a professional consultant to help you wade through the information and make the best possible decisions for your business. It’s an investment that will keep your future and your business secure.

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