10 Cybersecurity Essentials for Small Businesses

Cybersecurity is an issue that concerns any-sized businesses. But based on recent statistics, small firms bear an unfair share of that burden. A report from Small Business Trends shows that only 14% of small companies are confident in their ability to mitigate security risks; and roughly 60% shut down six months after a significant cyberattack. Since a considerable portion of attacks are aimed at companies with less than 100 computers; business owners must implement these ten cybersecurity essentials to survive.

Antivirus software

Everyone knows how important antivirus software is for protecting their computers. According to the AV-TEST institute; 390,000 new malicious programs are reported every day, which means that without antivirus software installed, chances of malware infection are extremely high. So as you build your business; ensure the antivirus software is configured properly and up to date; to detect and remove malware like Trojan horses, ransomware, and worms.

For small and medium business; we recommend NOD32 – Antivirus software from ESET. Apart from detecting known viruses; NOD32 uses advanced detection features to unmask the most evasive forms of malware.

Firewalls

A strong firewall is designed to deny unknown malicious websites and applications from accessing your network, while still allowing authorised users, sites, or devices into your network. Not having one in place is virtually the same as inviting hackers in to steal as much data or corrupt as many systems as they want.

For even finer control over what can or can’t access your systems; Untangle’s Next-Generation Firewall helps you block every reported rogue application; encrypted web request, and malware distribution networks.

Intrusion prevention systems

An intrusion prevention system (IPS) should be installed alongside your firewalls. An IPS closely monitors network traffic; studying its behaviour and flagging anomalies that could potentially harm your network. Even if a malware packet comes from a source your firewall believes is safe, IPS immediately prevents it from getting any further.

To quickly detect and defend against emerging threats; an IPS must have real-time access to global threat intelligence databases. As such, Cisco’s IPS solutions are a top choice considering the vastness of their security library. What’s more, their IPS keeps track of where vulnerabilities are likely to appear; making it easier to anticipate where the newest strain of malware will attack.

Secure web browsing tools

Installing antivirus software can protect you from a variety of threats; but it’s pointless if you can’t prevent your employees from visiting harmful websites. Content filtering services like OpenDNS blocks unwanted content, popup ads, and suspicious websites; protecting users from phishing attempts and other online scams.

Email filtering

Because most online scams use fraudulent emails to either distribute malware or trick victims into giving away their personal information; you must install anti-spam and anti-phishing solutions like the ones offered by ESET and Cisco. These technologies inspect email subject lines, content, and file attachments for traces of scamware and phishing links; thereby restricting spam or malicious messages from ever reaching your inbox.

Mobile device management

Due to the popularity of using mobile devices for work; it’s wise to have a system that allows you to keep them as secure as your desktop computers. Mobile device management tools help in this regard by giving administrators control over which business data and applications company-registered devices can access. Also, you can wipe any sensitive data from those devices remotely; when mobile devices ever get lost or stolen.

Patch management

One of the core tenets of cybersecurity is to update your software frequently to fix any bugs. However, distributing patches manually can be tricky, especially when you need to update several applications and endpoints.

If software updates are getting harder to keep track of; patch management applications such ESET’s Corporate Software Inspector will scan your system for vulnerabilities; check software version details, and tell you which version to update. Then, once you’ve determined how to deploy your patches; you can mass distribute them to company-registered devices in just a few clicks.

Authentication tools

By creating strong and unique passwords for all your accounts; you make it more difficult for hackers to gain access to your systems. In fact, an 8-character password with a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols has over 6 quadrillion possible combinations. If you’re having a tough time coming up with one; consider using random password generators.

Also, it’s wise to install password management software like LastPass. This stores impossible-to-remember login credentials in one account that’s protected by advanced encryption technologies and a master password. It will even help remind you up change them regularly and suggest unbreakable passwords. In other words, it helps you manage all the passwords you’ve set for each account.

Encryption software

As one of your last lines of defence; encryption prevents hackers from reading the contents of your files if they somehow managed to intercept them. When you’re in the market for cybersecurity solutions; look for products that can encrypt stored and transmitted files.

For example, full disk encryption services secure files stored in your computers; while Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) secure files while they’re in transit from office-based or cloud-based servers. In both cases, make sure all your encryption solutions come with 256-bit Advanced Encryption Standards.

Data backups

Data backups serve as your safety net in case your sensitive files are destroyed by cyberattacks. Cloud backup solutions such as StorageCraft back up your entire IT environment in secure facilities, including applications and files. These can then be recovered in seconds from any internet-enabled device; allowing you to continue working as if the cyberattack never happened. With the recent surge in ransomware attacks, backups also save you from having to pay hackers should they ever take your data hostage.

As you can see, a lot goes into creating a comprehensive cybersecurity framework for small businesses. Setting up all these products and making sure they all work together, however, is not something most small business owners have the time for. Partnering with a well-established cybersecurity provider like Empower IT; gives you access to the enterprise-class products and services you need.

In addition to providing the above mentioned products; we also offer comprehensive support that guarantees your business’s safety. Contact us today to get all the necessary security software and services; and fend off devastating cyberattacks.