Small companies are worried more about sales than network security. However, even small businesses are vulnerable to cyber-attacks. Hacking is not limited to big companies like Sony. Some malicious, black hat hackers can breach any network that is vulnerable and fish for information. Unlike big companies, even a small hacking scandal can spell the end for small businesses, which do not have vast financial resources to manage the aftermath. Therefore, small companies, more than anyone, should be careful about cyber security.
Here are some simple cyber security tips that a small company can follow without spending much money:
Have a Strong Password Protection Policy
Most hackers use phishing scams and data dumps to get access to employee passwords. A phishing scam is where a hacker sends an email pretending to be an ISP or a security company asking for username and password to be emailed. With a password, a hacker can easily access a network even without requiring any sophisticated skills. Therefore, you must instruct your employees on how to avoid such tactics. Have a policy where employees can only use strong passwords. A hacker can also guess a password like “abcd” or “12345” and get access. Also instruct everyone at the company to use two-factor authentication to reduce the chance of a hack.
In addition, your company can purchase password management for business software and secure passwords from the top levels.
Install a Firewall
It’s a simple precaution that most businesses do not have. You must have a firewall enabled for all network connections so no unwanted data passes through. You can purchase a firewall with malware protection software. Some operating systems also come with firewalls preinstalled. It’s important to use an up-to-date firewall to prevent new attacks. If possible, implement firewall protection from server side as well.
Limit Access to Network
Don’t allow all employees unlimited access to the entire network. Segment the network and limit access based on the classification system. For example, the sales team should only have access to sales-related data, not software engineering data, and vice versa. Top-level employees who handle sensitive data should have additional protection. If your network is segmented, even if there’s security vulnerability on one side, it will not spread to other departments and worsen the damage being done.
Do not wait to install security updates on all software. All programs, including firewalls, malware protection, word processing software and web browsers, should be updated frequently or as updates become available. Enable automatic security updates on all electronic devices. Do not rely on your employees to manually install such software.
Control Physical Access to the Office Network
Malware and hackers don’t get access to private networks from the internet and computers alone. Hackers can also get access via smartphones and flash drives. Therefore, all such devices that go in and out of the office should be closely monitored. Instruct your employees to keep their personal devices secure, and limit use inside the office. If possible, ban all external storage devices such as USB memory sticks, CDS and SD cards. These can be used to transmit spyware and also to steal data.
If you follow all the above mentioned tips, your small company will have the basics of cyber security covered. Implementing the above tips does not cost much either, but the benefits of doing so are many.