Businesses around the world fall victim to cybersecurity attacks. Data breaches can cause damage that is expensive to repair. The damage can permanently tarnish the reputation of a business. Sometimes, it may even lead to the business being forced to shut its doors. 

It is naive for small business owners to think they cannot fall prey to data breaches and theft. Smaller businesses often lack the data security infrastructure of larger firms. This makes them prime targets for nefarious individuals looking to steal financial and personal data. The following are a few ways to keep your business data safe from hackers. 

Identify Your Cyber Security Vulnerabilities

The complex nature of cybercrime and cybersecurity can make it difficult for small business owners to identify impending threats. Cybercriminals typically have a better grasp of business technology than business owners. 

A vulnerability assessment identifies vulnerabilities in your IT environment. Testers take on the role of cybercriminals, probing your IT environment for potential weaknesses and offering solutions based on several scenarios. 

Penetration testing focuses on individual aspects of your IT environment, such as domain rights that might be hacked. They probe customer and payment data that could get stolen. They also test the security of stored information that cybercriminals might alter. 

Here are some of the most common threats that could affect your organization’s data.

  • Employee error that leads to attackers accessing sensitive data or infecting your system with malware
  • Data leaks resulting from a poor configuration of cloud services
  • Authorized users missing information by copying, altering, or deleting data without prior approval

The more you know about potential vulnerabilities, the better you can protect your organization’s assets. 

Develop a Security Plan

Once vulnerabilities have been identified, create a security plan that addresses these vulnerabilities.

Limit access to your most valuable data. Years ago, most employees had access to every file on their computer. Those days are gone. When you limit who may access certain documents, you minimize the number of employees who could click on a harmful link and give cybercriminals access to your data. Many organizations have used virtual data rooms to allow authorized employees to share files intuitively and safely. These virtual rooms allow administrators to upload sensitive information, invite authorized individuals to access the information, collaborate using notifications and versioning, and track who downloads a file and who files get shared with. 

Require third-party vendors to comply with your data security plan. If you do business with several third-party vendors, you need to know who you are doing business with. You should limit the documents third-party vendors have access to.

It can be time-consuming for an IT department to take these precautions, but the alternative could be your business getting hacked and facing a multi-million dollar breach. You are responsible for ensuring that third-party vendors comply with privacy laws. Never assume.

Update software regularly. Your network is vulnerable to hackers when programs are not updated in a timely manner. There are several products out there that can check to ensure that all the programs on your computer are patched and are up-to-date. This is a simple and cost-effective way to prevent hackers from victimizing your organization. 

Educate Your Employees

When high-profile security breaches are investigated, it often comes to light that employee negligence or lack of training is at the heart of the breach. Educating employees on cybersecurity is an investment. You will need to commit to a variety of approaches to keep your team up-to-date with what’s going on.

Cybersecurity awareness should be a priority. The view should not be that the person who opened the wrong attachment or the person who clicked on a dangerous link is the point of failure. Instead, if there is a failure, it’s the training and security structure around the individual that has been compromised and needs to be improved.

Part of the training could include regularly providing your employees with cybersecurity news. The frequency and volume of information you share should be tailored so it gets everyone thinking about security in their day-to-day activities.

Hackers love weak passwords. Employee training should include an understanding of what a strong password is. Strong passwords are long, multiple character sets, and are changed regularly. They do not use complete words and are not used across shared accounts.

Data breaches and hacks will continue to rise. It is imperative that you take steps to ensure that you do not fall victim to these attacks. Training is key. Remember, cybersecurity for your business is a team effort.