Knowing how to prevent cyber attacks is a crucial step for long-term success in your business. Small businesses are particularly vulnerable, as cyber criminals may perceive them as having fewer security resources.
As attacks become more and more sophisticated, many business owners find themselves overwhelmed with how to avoid becoming a target. Luckily, there are a few simple measures that remain highly effective and should form the basis of your cybersecurity resources. Regularly implementing these steps will help avoid potentially damaging cyber intrusion.
Top 6 cybersecurity tips
1. Use Strong Passwords
This may seem obvious, but utilizing strong passwords to access data is one of the most important steps in good cybersecurity. As a business owner, you have a lot of information you need to keep track of; it may be tempting to use the same two passwords for everything, but this poses a significant risk.
Use different passwords for each and every point of entry. This does not mean simply adding an exclamation point or a dollar sign to another password. In the event that a cyber criminal is able to discern one password, don’t make it easy on them by using the same or similar passwords for everything else.
2. Use Multi-Factor Identification
Whenever possible, use at least a two-factor identification process. This process effectively involves more than one way to prove you deserve access to certain data. In addition to the initial password, for example, you could require that someone enter a code sent to an authorized email address. Some businesses might even implement biometric authentication tools, such as fingerprint scans or facial recognition.
3. Use a Firewall
The concept of a firewall is not new to cybersecurity, and for good reason. It is a highly effective way to block undesired data from infiltrating your network. A firewall allows you to create a set of security requirements that must be met before any outside data is permitted. Information coming from suspicious or unsecure websites, for example, will be blocked and flagged.
A firewall can exist as software or hardware, though it is generally recommended you use both. A software firewall is installed directly on your device and monitors traffic through port numbers and applications. A hardware firewall is a physical piece of machinery that forms a barrier between your network and your gateway address.
4. Update Your Software
Again, it may be tempting to postpone software updates. But these updates often address new security concerns, and skipping them can leave you vulnerable. Make sure you and your employees are routinely updating software, even when it is unprompted. This will protect you from new viruses that can affect both the operating system and third party software.
5. Make Back-Ups
A particularly nasty form of cyber terrorism involves something called “ransomware.” As the name suggests, this type of virus locks you out of your files and data and holds them hostage until you pay a ransom to retrieve them. Even if you pay the ransom, you cannot be sure your data will be returned or that the attacker won’t come back.
The best way to avoid being a victim of ransomware is to make back ups. Back ups are copies of your data that are stored on the hard drive or an external storage device, such as a flash drive. Make regular backups of anything and everything you need to operate your business. In the event you are targeted by ransomware, your attacker will have nothing to bargain with.
6. Train Your Staff
All the firewalls, backups, and passwords in the world won’t make any difference if your employees are not properly trained to recognize cyber threats. Hold regular training sessions that focus on the latest scams and how to avoid them.
Employees should be advised to never open emails from unknown addresses and verify all sources before downloading anything. If possible, it is a good idea to hire an outside agent to provide professional instruction on cybersecurity.
Stay On Top of Cyber Security Threats
Credit card and bank data are primary targets for scammers. Your first point of contact for preventing a data breach should be your merchant services provider. He or she will be well-versed in the most effective cybersecurity measures as well as the latest trends for illegally obtaining data.
If you need assistance in finding a quality merchant services provider, contact Summit Payments. We will help you find the provider that best meets your specific budget, business, and security needs.