5 actions small businesses need to take to protect their customers from cyber threats

With everyone spending more time and money on the internet, protecting yourself and your customers is essential.

Unfortunately, most small business owners are too busy coping with day to day tasks to spend time learning about cyber security or how threat vectors work.

But there are things every small business can do.

We’ll outline 5 things every small business can do to protect themselves and their customers.

We promise you won’t need a degree in ethical hacking to do them either!

Educate against social engineering

You can protect against social engineering using systems and training. Let’s tackle the latter as it can arguably be much more effective.

Social engineering is the technique of using human behaviour to achieve a goal. For example, phishing emails are a social engineering technique.

They try to trick people into thinking they are a legitimate email and can contain all manner of threats.

One type of phishing email is to fake an email from a bank or lender and including links to spoofed websites that look real but aren’t.

While systems can identify this type of email, educating staff against the many types of social engineering and what to do about them can be just as effective.

Keep all software up to date

Software and software exploits are the eternal game of cat and mouse. As soon as a potential exploit has been identified, the developer or manufacturer will patch it out, only for the cycle to begin again.

You can only take advantage of those patches if you keep your devices updated.

That’s easy to do with most built-in tools. Some specialist systems may require a process for updating, but most small business devices can handle it automatically.

Use encryption for data and customer accounts

Using encrypted storage for your data is a key way to protect everyone from threats. They aren’t complicated and don’t need a system admin to manage.

Yet they can protect you like few other systems!

Using two-factor authentication, encrypted networks, virtual private networks, SSL for your website and compliant payment systems will all help.

All of which can be bought off the shelf or as a service.

Many businesses will need encryption to be compliant with industry regulations. Any business that stores customer data is required to encrypt that data.

Use a robust password policy

Passwords are an inherent weakness in all IT systems, which is why big tech is trying to get rid of them.

You can play your part by insisting on strong passwords and mandating against using the same password multiple times.

There are business-grade password managers around that can automate a lot of this for you. They can even help generate and securely store passwords so there is no excuse to use an insecure one.

There is a move towards biometrics and Google, Apple and Microsoft are pushing to do away with passwords forever.

We think that’s a great move!

Have backups and backups of backups

Data backups used to be a messy, unreliable business with tape drives, couriers, fireproof safes and lots of hassle.

Fortunately, a lot has changed since then and backups are now easier than ever.

Every business of every size needs data backups. Whether it’s simply your email inbox or your complete hard drives, most organisations couldn’t cope without their data.

Which is a good reason to protect it.

You can buy backups as a service, use off-the-shelf data backup devices or a combination of the two.

Whatever you use, make sure you have two full copies of your data stored in two different places. It’s the only way to be truly sure.

Cloud solutions to protect your customers

If all that still sounds like a lot of hassle, there is another way. Use the cloud.

Using cloud desktops keeps everything up to date without you having to lift a finger.

Cloud storage and backups ensures all data is safely stored, encrypted backed up and always available. All without you having to do a thing.

Cloud networks can help protect your email inboxes from phishing and social engineering. They can work alongside training and education to protect your business from the majority of threats.

There are few times in business where one solution can solve most of your challenges, but the cloud is one of them!

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