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Fidelity Communications
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Sullivan, Missouri 63080

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Cybersecurity Best Practices for Small Businesses

  • Posted January 19, 2021

When almost 60 percent of small businesses that suffer a cyberattack shutter within half a year, it makes more sense than not to take that statistic as a warning. By employing a few best practices to safeguard your business against cyberthreats, you can protect yourself from becoming a victim of such statistics.

Best Practice #1: Taking the threat seriously

About 43 percent of all cyber attacks target small businesses. Why? Besides being an easy mark, smaller shops have assets such as customer data and financial records and may not employ sophisticated cyber protection systems that larger businesses have.

The first step is to increase your knowledge of cyberthreats. Train yourself and your employees on the basics in best practices to protect your business against hackers. Start with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's cyberthreat awareness campaign, 'Stop. Think. Connect.'

Best Practice #2: Update antivirus software regularly

While antivirus software is important in securing your business against cybercrime, make sure it's updated regularly on your office computers. Add extra layers of protection such as:

  • Use the firewall that comes with your operating system as a reinforcement against potential hackers.
  • Encrypt the information that goes in and out your business by using a Virtual Private Network (VPN). This is particularly critical if you or your employees connect to your system remotely.

Best Practice #3: Trust no one, including “familiar” senders

These days, hackers are using more sophisticated tricks to breach your system, one of which being disguising themselves as those you know and trust. Officially termed as 'phishing,' here's an example. Let's say a supplier emailed you, explaining that they're experiencing issues with your recent order and need you to reenter your password. While the email looks similar to the ones sent by your supplier, it's not. When the fake link is clicked, the hacker will know your password and breach your account.

So how do you spot a phishing attempt? It may be as easy as double-checking the email address, appearing as supplier@acme.org instead of the real one, supplier@acme.com. Click here for a few more tips from the Federal Trade Commission that may be useful.

Best Practice #4: Connecting to a secured Wi-Fi network.

Here's an example. You stopped to get a coffee and receive a phone call from a customer inquiring about an order. You then log into your system using the shop's public Wi-Fi. The issue is, someone may be on that same network spying on you. Besides learning your login information, they'll also gain access to your customer's information as well. Some go as far as setting up loo-alike Wi-Fi networks so that they look like the places you're at even though it's the hacker's network instead. Some alternatives to public Wi-Fi are:

  • If available, use your internet service provider's network of secure hotspots you can access as part of their service.
  • Use your cellular connection.
  • Tap your cellphone as a hotspot so you can connect on your laptop.

Best Practice #5: Be vigilant against threats from inside your business.

More than just preventing outsiders from getting in, cybersecurity also means keeping the abuse from happening inside of your business. Nearly half of data breaches were caused by a negligent employee or contractor.

An easy countermeasure is training, which creates a human firewall to address this issue. Entrepreneur.com suggests you focus on: identifying and reporting threats, password security, and internet/email/social media policies.

Incorporate these best practices to avoid expensive cybersecurity mistakes made by other small businesses. Use them as an opportunity to proactively tackle common threats—before they sack your business.

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