Small businesses rely on the Internet for many of their operations—from ordering stock to keeping in touch with customers. Unfortunately, the Internet increases small businesses to the exposure of cybercrimes. Cyber-attacks such as ransomware and phishing scams are increasing. Cyber criminals use these attacks to target businesses large and small to steal sensitive data. These attacks can cause your business to lose money or damage your reputation.

Just as you would lock your doors and store valuables in a safe–cyber security should be taken as seriously as physical security. Although a business can never be completely safe from cyber threats, there are some basic security practices that can help prevent most online attacks. It’s essential that businesses learn how to prevent their data from falling into the wrong hands.

Use Strong Passwords

Strong passwords are an essential layer of protection. All staff should understand the need to have a complex password. A mix of at least ten characters including upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters should be used to create a strong password. Common words, names, and consecutive numbers are particularly vulnerable for attacks.

Change Passwords Often

Compromised passwords are compiled into a list that is shared and sold on the black market by hackers. Once your password is on this list, it’s easy for anyone to gain access to your accounts. It’s ideal that you change your password often. A general rule of thumb is to change your password every 180 days (6 months). This protects your accounts from being compromised if your password was stolen.

Use Security Software

A firewall and anti-virus software can prevent many cyber attacks. Don’t cut corners with these protections as you put your business at risk. Anti-virus software must be updated regularly to ensure that the latest database is installed. This database helps anti-virus software identify new malware and removes them.

Limit Personal Use of Company IT Equipment

Accessing personal e-mail accounts and social media on company computers carries a high risk. Your employees should be given guidelines regarding cyber security and the dangers of visiting risky websites. Virus and malware can be hidden in social media websites, apps, or attachments sent in e-mails. This can cause major issues to your company’s network.

Backup Your Data

Backing up your data often is important in protecting your business. Should your business ever become a victim of a cyber attack, you can easily wipe out all your computers and restore clean data from a previous time period. We recommend that backups should be store to at least two different locations.

Plan for the Worst

Cyber security experts advise that planning and preparing for an attack is essential. Do you have a recovery plan in place? We recommend that your data is backup often and that you consult with your IT provider on a continuity plan in the event of an attack. Having a plan in place can make the difference between a couple of days of loss business or a long-term impact that can close your business.

Cyber criminals are becoming increasingly sophisticated and the threats are constantly changing. Small business attacks are increasing by the day. As a small business, you should take steps to protect your business from cyber attacks.