The global coronavirus pandemic has caused abundant changes in the way we socialize, shop, and, perhaps most significantly, in the way we work. In 2021 about 1 in 4 Americans worked remotely. With Ecommerce booming and so many business dealings now taking place over the internet, there is more incentive than ever for cybercriminals to seek access to online accounts and data.
The good news is, there are a number of proactive steps any business owner can take to help protect their online information and transactions. From small, common-sense adjustments to solutions that might not seem familiar, let’s take a look at six ways to safeguard your business online.
1. Boost Your Password and Network Security
It may seem like common sense, but one of the most important steps any business can take to prevent cyberattacks is to boost your business’s password and network security. How? Follow the guidelines for creating secure passwords. Choose a company log in password that is as difficult to guess as possible.
Avoid any identifiable phrases or strings of numbers, such as birthdays, physical addresses, song lyrics, or even single words. While these passwords may be easier to remember, they will also be easier to guess. Choose a password that is at least 9 digits long, and that includes a mixture of capital and lower case letters, numbers, and special characters in a random arrangement.
Change your passwords frequently. The more often your passwords change, the more difficult it will be for hackers to access whichever accounts they protect. And the same logic goes for your network security. Change the name of your local Wi-fi connection frequently, so that any potential bad actors attempting to trace your internet activity will be thrown off course.
2. Change The Factory Settings Of Your Router
If you are using a company-wide internet router, make sure you change the factory setting log in information that come with your router.
Bad actors can access the network and admin log in information that comes with any router straight from the factory. And that can grant them access to all your company’s online activity.
Change the permissions and network name associated with the router, so that there is an extra layer of security embedded at the core of your company internet. If you have a lot of employees working from home, ensure that they each do the same with their home internet routers, changing the factory settings to prevent hackers from accessing their home networks.
3. Raise Employee Awareness
People can be the strongest and weakest aspects of your cybersecurity measures. Organize trainings and informational sessions for all employees, so that they are aware of the potential cyber threats that exist. Hackers using tools like spyware and ransomware often utilize methods like phishing, in which they contact your employees and pretend to be someone familiar- or even someone with higher authority in the company.
If any employee receives an email that looks suspicious, the best thing they can do is to avoid opening it and report it immediately. If a phishing campaign is successful, one or more of your employees may unwittingly reveal sensitive company information, such as log in details, financial records, active geolocations, or confidential transactions.
So the best way to protect against human error in your multi-pronged cybersecurity system is to ensure that each employee is as knowledgeable about cybersecurity as possible. Make sure there is a clear chain of contacts, so that any employee knows what to do in the event that they are targeted by a hacker.
4. Anonymize Your Browser With a VPN
Sometimes digital attacks can lead to physical break-ins. One of the best ways to prevent this from occurring is to install a VPN on your company network. A VPN, which stands for “virtual private network”, masks the geolocation of any employee using that internet.
In other words, any employee working online with the VPN installed can make it seem that they are accessing the internet from somewhere else in the world. This way their physical location cannot be traced back to their online activity.
In addition, a VPN anonymizes online transactions, obscuring personal and sensitive information from any bad actors. For your company’s remote workers, it is a smart idea to offer company-wide VPN coverage so that each employee can install the VPN on their home network. This is a great way to prevent cyberattacks related to company interactions on people’s home internet networks.
5. Install a Firewall
Think of your internet router as the dynamic core of your internet dealings. Every device that is connected to the same internet network is connected via the router. It is like the beating heart of your internet network.
In order to protect it from dangerous outside access, install a firewall. A firewall acts as a kind of gatekeeper that receives all incoming messages and attempts at accessing the network. The firewall analyzes and assesses the threat level of each incoming user. If anything seems suspicious, the firewall will prevent that user or message from reaching the router. The firewall works in the background, blocking ransomware, spyware, and other forms of malware from entering and corrupting the system.
6. Choose the Right Insurance Company
Sometimes mistakes happen. Even with the best protections, there can be errors and omissions that may lead to unexpected cybersecurity breaches. Or your company may be the victim of a cyberattack in spite of your security measures. Given the possibility that unforeseen events can occur, it is vital that small businesses have the right insurance in place to protect them.
If the measures we have discussed above protect your business online from the inside out, then consider your business insurance an extra layer of protection from the outside in. In the event that you do suffer a cybersecurity breach, then you will need to know that your assets and data are protected. The right insurance company can help you deal with the potential fallout of a breach, and can even advise you on ways to better protect your business’s information.
Keeping Your Business Safe Online
Communication, common sense, and frequent updates are key to protecting your business online. Maintain a constant and vigilant awareness and ensure that all your employees do the same. The more that your employees communicate with each other, the more difficult it will be for a hacker to impersonate one of them. Establish strong cybersecurity protocols for all workers, remote and in person.
Then, update your security systems regularly. Perform maintenance checks to ensure that your cybersecurity tech is up to date and ready to deal with the latest cyberattack methods. Change your passwords and network login details frequently. And make sure you have business insurance that is capable of protecting your company in the event that something unforeseen does occur.