7 Basic Cybersecurity Tips for Small Businesses

By Editor
Guest Post
  Published 16 Mar 2018
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Cybersecurity is a set of services, mechanisms and policies that ensure that the mode of operation of a computer system is secure, both the one specified in its design phase and the one that was configured in time of administration or use. Information and communication systems are used throughout the public administration, in educational and health institutions and in tax agencies. Also dependent on this type of technological infrastructure are financial institutions, companies, both large corporations and small and factories. Therefore, cyber security affects any economic activity.

The big companies are those that cover the articles with headlines that speak of "ransomware" and "data hijacking", giving the impression that the attacks are only aimed at large companies. But the fact is that the 43% of all attacks globally are intended for small and medium enterprises. What's more, as our recent quarterly, small businesses are the ones most likely to be infected with malware. This is because although cybercriminals know that attacks on large companies are more profitable, they are also aware that small businesses have fewer protection measures.

Do not underestimate cyber attacks

Although half of the security problems come from malicious actions, the other half originates in inadequate behaviour, lack of information, carelessness and similar problems. And do not underestimate the damaging potential of these attacks. A network infection, the leakage of sensitive information or the access of a hacker to the system can cause costs so serious that, according to statistics, up to 60% of small businesses do not recover after a cyber attack. Therefore, even if we think that our small company does not have any interest, we should not neglect the security measures and the actions that will allow us to protect ourselves adequately.

In a technological society and in a network such as the current one, cyber security affects practically all facets of the daily life of people, organizations and governments. Cybersecurity protects us, not only from deliberate attacks but from accidents caused by natural catastrophes, carelessness of employees without bad intentions, etc. Small businesses and self-employed workers are big targets for hackers, and the economic consequences can be considerable. Gone are the days of thinking "it will never happen to us". Not only hacks have increased frequency, but the impact on SMEs is increasingly important.

But where do you start? Many SMEs feel that being as secure as a big business is impossible. "Corporations have big budgets, security chiefs and complete teams dedicated to cybersecurity." This perception derives from the impression that hacks are very complicated, and depend on a tireless troop of highly skilled attackers. Most hacks are not like that. Most rely on the lack of knowledge about what is needed to compromise your systems: a simple phishing email or a filtered password and nothing else. It's that easy. Educating yourself in this area and sharing knowledge with the staff is the only solution.

  1. Get a secure password

> 80% of infractions are due to stolen passwords and/or weak passwords.

> Obtaining a secure password is the minimum necessary. This is easier than you think.

> Many do not know that you can use spaces in your passwords, for example: "horse table" is a much better password than "horse123".

  1. Make your password unique

> Having a single strong password does not count if that password is filtered.

> Reliable companies like LinkedIn and Yahoo have lost millions of passwords in recent years, which open the door to powerful cyber attacks.

  1. Know how to detect phishing

> Cybercriminals are constantly sending phishing emails, trying to click on your website to install malware or convince you to give them your password.

> Understanding what a hacker is trying to do and what he is looking for is key.

> Bad syntax, incorrect spelling or email addresses and links that include a lot of complete stops (for example, amazon.getcode.tickets.phishingattack.com) are key warning signs to watch out for.

  1. Understand the information you are already giving

> Phishing attacks depend on the amount of information we share about ourselves online.

> The infringers behind the stealing of celebrity iCloud data in 2014 used the information gained through the public messages the figures gave to guess the answers to the user's secret questions.

> If your secret question is "The city I was born in" and you publish that information on Facebook, the cybercriminals have an easy way to access your account.

  1. Pay attention to the URLs of the web pages

> When you see "https" in the URL of a web page, it means that your communication with that page is not encrypted.

> Any communication could easily be read by a hacker waiting on that page.

> "Http" is a warning sign to keep in mind if you ever think you might have stumbled upon a phishing website or are generally suspicious.

>If you ever enter confidential information such as credit card numbers or personal information, make sure that the website has "https" in the URL of the website. That way, you'll be more secure.

  1. Update your software

The software is updated for a reason. In general, companies such as Microsoft or Apple discover vulnerabilities that could allow them to enter their systems, so they fix it and then offer an update.

  1. Encrypt everything

In the event of a computer breach, at least make sure that any information that is exposed to third parties is difficult to understand.

  • Encrypt your hard disks and databases with a modern algorithm like AES-256; this is a crucial defensive tool to protect your data in case of a violation.
  • Knowledge is the key to cybersecurity, but it is important to think about the underlying structure of your business and how you handle data more broadly.
  • The controls of the entire organization and data protection policies help define a solid technological defence, and ensure that you know how to respond in case of non-compliance.

About the Author

Tom Sanders, a well-known blogger, has taught technology related stuff includingHow to turn on bluetooth on Windows10,Windows basics, Security issues on a PC to students, teachers and people from all walks of life.He focuses mainly on ideas that are revolutionizing business with technology.

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