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As a small business owner operating online in any capacity, you need to take stock of applicable cyber security risks. Malicious actors will launch cyberattacks on weak systems, and it may not matter what information that system protects. If there is a weak spot they can exploit, then that is a risk for your business. You need to protect your digital systems, not only for your own business’ safety but also to meet legal privacy requirements. If you handle customers’ personal information, you need to ensure you do so securely and in line with your legal responsibilities. For some assistance, this article will go through some tips for improving cyber security in your business.

1. Conduct a Cyber Security Risk Assessment

Firstly, you need to conduct a risk assessment of your business’ cyber security systems and regularly conduct such checks as time goes on. Once you identify areas of risk or exploitable gaps in your security, then you can find ways to mitigate those risks and plug those gaps. This assessment should include:

  • evaluating and knowing your systems;
  • identifying potential threats;
  • exposing risk areas and vulnerabilities;
  • determining impacts of an attack on your business;
  • developing a response plan; and
  • implementing security controls tailored to your needs.

2. Train Your Staff

Once you have identified areas of cyber security risk, it is crucial that your staff are aware of any potential vulnerabilities of the systems they operate. Ensure they know what suspicious activity may look like and how they can report cyber security problems. Train them so that they implement secure operating procedures in the course of their work.

For example, make it a workplace policy that staff cannot leave devices with sensitive information on them unattended.

3. Have a Strong Password Policy

Despite the clear security ramifications, many people still do not employ solid passwords or rely on default credentials given when starting. Ensure you do not use factory-set passwords or logins and that your staff have a unique password where necessary. Employ the use of alphanumeric passwords or passphrases to improve security.

4. Enable Multifactor Authentication

Multifactor authentication (MFA), or similar two-factor authentication (2FA), is an added step for securing logins to your digital systems and accounts. This method involves requiring a second or third mode of identity verification when logging into an account or system, such as a phone number or identity question. You can implement this both for your internal logins, as well as your customers’ logins. It would be helpful to enable MFA on any storage systems or banking services.

5. Encrypt Your Data

Encryption is a security process in which you encode your business’ critical data. This means you transform your data into scrambled code, which only the person with the correct key can translate back into readable data. There are two key points where you should encrypt your data:

  • storage; and
  • transmission.

Your digital storage systems should encrypt any data you hold. You should also ensure your website operates on a current SSL certificate, especially when handling customer payments. This means that any data they send you is encrypted and third parties cannot easily interfere with the connection.

6. Keep Software Updated

Software updates can seem constant and never-ending, particularly when you operate on multiple different systems. However, you should endeavour to make sure that all of your digital systems are up to date. Manufacturers and developers implement bug and security fixes in updates, and if your system is out of date, this can increase your risk for a cyberattack. Where possible, keep software updates automatic and do not let them build up.

7. Keep Data Backed Up

You should implement a regular data recovery system, keeping your important business data backed up for later retrieval. If your business is the victim of a malware attack or similar, this can corrupt your systems, and you can lose valuable information. Dealing with the fallout of such an attack is much easier if you can go back to an unaffected backup. It is best to back up all of your essential data, including:

  • customer information;
  • business details and data; and
  • system files and access logs.

Ensure that you keep these backups adequately secured as well.

8. Develop a Response Plan

Implementing security measures can never eliminate the risk of a privacy or data breach, only lessen it. Therefore, you need to develop a guideline for what to do if you are the victim of a cyberattack or system breach. Dealing with such fallout can be stressful, but you can make the process much easier if you have a clear plan to follow. Develop step by step procedures for mitigating fallout and how your staff will take part in this process.

Key Takeaways

If your business has any digital presence involving essential or sensitive data, you need to ensure that you adequately protect your systems. You need to do so to protect your business, as well as comply with any applicable legal obligations. If you would like more information or help with cyber security at your business, contact LegalVision’s IT lawyers on 0800 005 570 or fill out the form on this page.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is encryption?

Encryption is a security process that encodes data so that it is not immediately readable. Your important information is scrambled, and only the person with the appropriate key can decode and read it.

What does MFA stand for?

MFA stands for multifactor authentication. This refers to a security verification process, where you provide two or more identity verification factors when logging into your accounts or systems.

What is a data breach?

Data breaches are security incidents where an unauthorised person has accessed, misused, or deleted your data. Another kind of data breach is where something is preventing you from accessing your systems, like a denial-of-service attack.

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