Small businesses are being targeted by cybercriminals. Here’s why small businesses need serious network security—and how you can get started right now.
Small businesses are the dominant type of business in the United States. According to SBA.gov, if you have fewer than 500 employees, you’re a small business. And over 99% of companies qualify. So it’s not news that this incredibly popular business type needs to take its network security seriously.
Some Hard Cyber-Security Facts for Small Businesses
But what if you’re a really small business? Are you exempt? Is your little store too small to attract any notice from the bad guys who prowl the Internet? Sorry, but no. An article in PC World notes that one in five small businesses is affected by cybercrime each year and 60 percent of those go out of business within six months as a result. Yikes. As you know, we take security pretty seriously here at the Techsperts Talk blog. So let’s talk about the elephant in the room: how to keep your small business network secure.
About 31% of all cyber attacks are aimed specifically at small businesses.
They’re often targeted for the simple reason that they’re easier to hack than, say, a huge bank. While a cybercriminal might not get a million-dollar haul from a mom-and-pop biz, they can get a few easy bucks—and possibly a few more computers to add to their army of zombie PCs that do their evil bidding. (Yes, zombie PCs are a real thing and they do evil bidding for cybercriminals.)
Aside from the hovering spectre of hacking, there are at least two other reasons to pay attention to your network security. One- is that your customers expect their information to be safe with you. As we all know, an unhappy customer is a customer that’s taking their business elsewhere. And secondly- the government and a couple of credit card agencies expect it, particularly from anyone involved in healthcare or anyone who processes credit card payments.
The First Steps to Keeping Your Business Network Safe
Ideally, you should call an expert in on this process. But if the expert can’t come for a while (or if there’s no room in the budget for an expert consultation fee just now) there are some common-sense things you can do right now to keep yourself safer.
If you use a WiFi network, make sure it’s secure and has a strong, long password.
If you offer guest WiFi access, make sure you use a separate network for that. And make it secure as well.
Have antivirus and firewall software on every single thing that accesses your business’s Internet connection: PC, Mac, tablet, smartphone… everything.
Update your apps and operating system regularly.
Backup your important files regularly, either to a secure cloud location or to a secure onsite location.
Limit employees’ access to important and sensitive information. If it’s not part of their job to know, then don’t make the information available. This works for customer information, financial records, and IT, by the way.
Require that all users have unique, strong passwords, and change them at least every three to six months.