Top 10 Network Security Best Practices for Small Businesses
using fingerprint to unlock network
Cyber-attacks put your small business at risk for data loss, reputational damage, and financial losses. Protecting your network from cyber threats is essential to running a successful and secure company. Here are ten top network security best practices for small businesses to keep in mind.
Ensure Your Third-Party Partners Are Secure
As a small business, you will likely partner with other companies that help supply your inventory or payment processors that make the purchasing process easier. Since they have access to your systems, they can unexpectedly grant access to a hacker looking to make their next big score if they are not secure.
It's vital to ensure these third-party partners take the necessary security measures, such as using strong passwords, regularly auditing security protocols, and encrypting any customer data they handle. Also, when choosing a partner, look for options with a longstanding reputation for providing robust security.
Invest in a firewall to protect your network from any malicious threats. Firewalls are a protective barrier between your network and the internet that prevents unauthorized access to your network. Look for firewalls that update automatically and require minimal maintenance.
Data encryption allows you to keep your customer's data secure. As crazy as it sounds, encryption is your worst-case scenario protection. Encrypting customer data ensures that attackers cannot access any of the data they have stolen.
Enable Multi-Factor Authentication
Multi-factor authentication requires anyone accessing your system to provide two or more pieces of evidence when logging in. It could be a password, a security code sent via SMS, or biometric identification, such as fingerprint scanning.
Since the hackers won't have access to your phone or fingerprint, multi-factor authentication is an effective way to protect your accounts against unauthorized access.
Regularly Update Software and Operating Systems
Outdated software is a prime target for cybercriminals because they know bug and vulnerability fixes are not applied. Keep your software and operating systems up-to-date. Do this by enabling automatic updates to ensure your systems are always protected.
Keep in mind that some software will need to be updated manually. Many systems will notify you when that needs to happen. Don't wait to update it. Do it immediately.
Regularly Back Up Data
Backing up important data can help ensure you don't lose critical information in a data breach or cyber-attack. Store your backups in an off-site location so the attackers won't be able to access them. That way, if you get hacked, you can restore all your files from the backup. Set up your backups to occur daily.
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Limit Access to Sensitive Information
hacker accessing sensitive information
Every employee has a duty they excel at. Therefore, they only need to access the information required to do their job. Business owners should only share critical data with the necessary personnel. Believe it or not, this will lower your chances of experiencing a data breach and reduce the attack surface.
Create a plan that specifies which individuals have access to specific levels of information. Ensure that each individual understands their roles and responsibilities and knows what information they should never access.
Train Employees on Cyber Security
Unfortunately, data breaches can often happen to employees who intentionally or unintentionally provide access to cyber criminals. Cybersecurity training is essential for employees to understand their responsibilities when it comes to protecting company data. Formal training sessions and ongoing awareness campaigns can help employees recognize cyber threats and respond appropriately.
It should include teaching them about strong password usage and how to detect phishing emails. Additionally, establish specific policies about how to handle and safeguard customer information and other critical data.
Employee-initiated attacks can happen in various ways, such as losing a work tablet, sharing login credentials, or opening fraudulent emails that can infect your business' network with viruses.
Secure Your Wi-Fi Network
Unsecured Wi-Fi networks are an open invitation for hackers to access your network. Ensure your wireless router is password protected. Also, use strong encryption. Ensure you are using WPA2 or WPA3 encryption for your wireless network. Consider using a VPN whenever you access the internet from public Wi-Fi networks, as this will help to keep your data secure.
Regularly Perform Risk Assessment
Risk assessments identify design flaws and other system issues that pose a security risk. They give you a chance to respond to any threats before they become a problem. Do it at least once per quarter to ensure your systems are not in danger of new threats.
To assess your risk level:
- Review how and where your data is stored and who can access it.
- Identify potential unauthorized users and their methods to obtain the data. Consult your provider for risk assessment if your data is on cloud storage.
- Evaluate possible events and determine the risk associated with each, including the potential impacts of a data breach on your business.
After you complete the analysis, use your collated information to develop or refine your security strategy. Also, have an antivirus program in place to protect your computers from virus and malware attacks.
Related: How VoIP Works| How Stuff Works
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Understanding the Importance of Security Best Practices for Small Businesses
Network security is essential for small businesses, as the outcome of a data breach can be devastating. A data breach early on can be crippling for a small business and take months, if not years, to recover from. Following these ten network security best practices will help protect your business from cyber threats and keep your customer data safe.
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