It’s nearly impossible to run a business today without an Internet presence and an Internet connection. Everyone from the tiniest one-person companies to the largest conglomerates utilizes the Internet for transactions, communication, information sharing, marketing, payment processing, and more.
With all that connectivity comes the risk of exposing sensitive information, downed websites due to attacks, and corrupted or compromised internal networks from viruses and hackers. Once the damage is done, it’s hard to repair. The best way to minimize your online risk is to put safeguards in place before you have issues. Try some of these cybersecurity tips to keep your small business protected.
Build a firewall
A firewall is a barrier between your internal network and the rest of the Internet. It is the gateway for incoming and outgoing traffic and can block suspicious activity before damage is done. A variety of firewalls are available, including software-based and hardware-based options. Work with a cybersecurity expert or your Internet service provider to assess your level of threat and choose the best options for your company. They can also help you customize your firewall with the features the make the most sense for your network and data.
Encourage individual computer safety
Firewalls do you little good if your employees invite viruses and malware into your network via their work computers, so start by installing antivirus software on every machine. No matter how savvy your employees are, malicious content can slip through, and antivirus software will provide a safety net for your entire network.
In addition to installing software protection, it’s important to train employees on safe and appropriate use of their work computers, starting with the following guidelines:
- Don’t click on links from unknown sources or unexpected links from trusted sources. When in doubt, ask the sender before opening it.
- Don’t download software and apps without approval from your manager.
- Report suspicious behavior on your computer, such as windows popping up, unexpected errors, slow load and processing times, and unusual emails from unknown addresses.
- Use complex and secure passwords and update them regularly.
- Maintain physical control of all devices and passwords.
Create a virtual private network
If you have remote employees and/or work with sensitive information, you’ll likely want to establish a virtual private network (VPN). As remote employees connect to your business network, the data they send may go through a public network or their own Internet service provider. These pathways make the data vulnerable to networking security threats. A VPN allows users to communicate with a server via a hidden connection, often likened to a tunnel, to protect the data they transmit.
Add external website hosting protection
For most small businesses, websites are hosted on external servers outside of the company network. While your internal network may be protected and monitored, your website may still be exposed to attack. In this case, your Web host might be able to help you to lock down your site from malicious behavior. These tips can also help keep your site in good shape:
Keep server-based apps updated. Outdated apps often have unpatched security holes that hackers will know about and exploit.
- Use HTTPS rather than HTTP. It’s a more secure protocol and is becoming the standard for websites. It does require installing a security certificate — typically your Web host can help with this. And your customers will notice your investment in their security.
- Avoid unnecessary tools and features on your site. The more you install, the more chances you create for a security hole or other problem.
- Install a security plugin or app to help you manage your site’s protection.
- As mentioned above, choose secure passwords and update them regularly.
These four practices can help keep your small business safe from cybersecurity threats. Being proactive can save you time, money, and frustration. Find out how Comcast Business can help keep you protected.