Changing your locks may protect your small business from intruders, but unfortunately, warding off hackers isn’t as simple. In 2018, two thirds of small-medium businesses suffered at least one type of cyber security attack. As the internet has evolved, hackers have refined their techniques to reach a wider pool of victims, faster than ever.

Whether your business operates entirely online, or has a website to complement its brick-and-mortar location, you must consider how to improve cyber security. Creating a small business cyber security plan is crucial for your organization to keep data, passwords, credit card numbers, and other information safe in the age of the web.

Cyber Security: Small Business Statistics

Without taking the appropriate precautions, small businesses can be easy targets for hackers.

In 2018, two thirds of small-to-medium businesses suffered a cyber attack. Fortunately, many of these businesses were well prepared for these attacks!

Each successful attack can cost the victim nearly $3 million. In addition to the potential ransom cost, this number also includes other variables like the cost of business lost, hours invested in recovering, and more.

92% of cyber attacks come via email. When you engage with this malware, you open up the floodgates for more severe attacks.

Small Business Cyber Security Guide

1. Keep Your Passwords Unique and Unpredictable

People might not be able to guess your pet’s name and your birthday, but specialized brute force attack software can. This software repeatedly guesses character combinations at a rapid fire pace, until they determine your unique password. Choosing complex passwords should be the first step in your small business cyber security plan.

Online password generators are the perfect way to choose unique, defense-ready passwords for new accounts. These randomized password generators offer the option to include symbols, numbers, lowercase & uppercase characters, and more. Many are available online for free.

To fully fortify your website against hackers, these credentials must be changed on a consistent basis. IT administrators should enforce routine password change requirements, but discourage simple or easy-to-guess changes. Variants of the same theme, name, or date make the discovery process easier for hackers.

Password managers like Dashlane offer a simple solution to the otherwise impossible task of tracking passwords. With a password manager, you can track, manage, and share passwords. Employees working at different times of day can find newly updated passwords quickly and easily! Google’s keychain is integrated within the Chrome browser, and offers another simple way to manage passwords. It can update automatically every time you log into an account, or the password is changed.

Using a dedicated password manager is also an easy way to track which corporate accounts are active, and which might be obsolete. Be sure to delete these obsolete accounts, which may otherwise be an easy target for hackers, as you find them.

2. Upgrade Your IT Arsenal With Cutting-Edge New Equipment

When it comes to maximizing your network security, upgrading to the latest cyber defense equipment is crucial. Firewall devices, network routers and other IT equipment will fortify your security system to prevent defenses to prevent hackers from gaining entry. As hackers leverage cutting-edge techniques, these upgrades are imperative.

Many organizations consider IT equipment to be an afterthought, or a one-time expense. But the reality is much different: upgrading and replacing this equipment with modern hardware can bolster your network security. Equipment financing will allow you to purchase this new technology and protect your business, without impacting your budget.

3. Hire an IT Consultant, Representative or Team

Purchasing IT equipment is a great first step in your small business cyber security program. Hiring a trained IT professional to properly configure should be the second step. These employees can not only implement protection procedures, but add new measures as time goes by and the network security landscape changes.

For example, IT professionals may suggest two-factor authentication. This is an extra step in the log-in process, which is common in websites, social media accounts, and other platforms. Every time somebody logs in on a new device, the platform dynamically sends a unique code to a registered device or email address, which the user must input before gaining full access. But your network security strategy doesn’t end there. IT professionals can make other recommendations tailored to your business– and they may save you millions in recovery expenses.

3/4s of businesses in the small-medium businesses do not have an IT team to handle technology and safety-related issues. As your business grows (and becomes a more vulnerable target), you should address the increased cyber attack threat by employing trained professionals.

Whether you choose to hire an IT consultant or representative, or an entire team, adding IT to the equation enables your company to grow safely, without the threat of an attack. Small business loans empower you to access the financing you need to hire an IT team right away, and begin protecting your company from digital threats.

4. Back Up All Data in an Off-Site or Cloud-Based Server

In the unfortunate event of a cyber attack, you don’t want to be left without any options. Contingency plans should be an important part of every small business cyber security checklist.

Storing this data in the cloud allows your organization to easily access it in the event of a breach or shutdown. These storage solutions are also scalable, meaning they can be easily adapted to meet higher standards as data demands increase.

This small business data security solution can be costly, but pales in comparison to the cost of recovering from a cyber attack.

5.  Keeping Your Small Business Website Secure With HTTPS

Your small business cyber security solution should also prioritize your customers’ safety and privacy. Upgrading your website’s domain to HTTPS by installing an SSL certificate ensures that all information passing through the website is secure.

Each time a customer submits information like their name, email address, or phone number, the information is encrypted. Hackers can’t access the key required to decrypt this information. This makes it impossible for hackers to identify potential leads, and subsequently impersonate a sales representative.

If your website is old, outdated, or inaccurate, then it may be time for a redesign anyway. National helps small businesses upgrade their digital presence to the modern age through our web design service.

6. Perform Regular Software Updates and Protect Your Small Business Network

No matter how advanced your technical needs are, never forget the basics of IT network security.

First, ensure that either IT or all employees regularly update their business computers. Gaps in software updates can make personal computers particularly vulnerable to hackers. Updating may delay your productivity for a few minutes, but it’s nothing compared to the time that an attack will last.

How to Secure a Small Business Network

  • Keep your business Wi-Fi network secure by password-protecting it, and reserving the password for employees only. If necessary, create a separate Wi-Fi network for customers, but be sure to limit the duration of each session.
  • Install a firewall. Hardware firewalls can ensure a higher degree of protection for more sessions. Installation will require a professional touch, but the resulting level of security is well worth it.
  • Be sure that your network and all personal computers are equipped with anti-virus, anti-spyware, anti-malware, and other cyber security solutions.

7. Train Employees to Understand and Protect Against Phishing Schemes

Business owners may be subject to the majority of phishing schemes, but not all of them. Phishing, which accounts for over 90% of small business cyber security attacks, can affect employees at all levels. Training your team to distinguish between real communications and these phishing emails– which are becoming increasingly personalized– is a must.

One of the most common phishing techniques is requesting specific information via email. Banks, credit agencies and other businesses will never request this information through an email. Instead, all legitimate inquiries will come through the phone. Additionally, these emails are normally rife with grammatical errors, which are a dead giveaway when sent by official, formal organizations. They may also have a highly urgent subject line, or content designed to drive immediate action.

Get Funding for Your Cyber Security Business Plan

Never leave your business open to the hazards and pitfalls of the internet! National can help you prepare for the worst cyber security threats with expedited financing. Fill out our 60-second obligation or call National Business Capital at (number) to explore a variety of options today!