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Technology is now a huge part of business; thanks to it, business managers can shop for new supplies and raw materials online, communicate with business associates on the other end of the planet, and run a thriving business from the comfort of their home. Unfortunately, as its benefits are significant, so are the threats technology poses to businesses.

Cyber criminals prefer to target smaller businesses as only 43% SMEs are helpless against cyber-attacks, and they could be targeted with sophisticated outmaneuvering attacks in future. Small businesses are now more concerned than ever about the security of their clients’ confidential files, as the impact of a data breach takes over 60% of growing firms out of businesses in six months.

Even if your business survives the aftermath of a data breach, getting back to its former glory will be a challenge; you will have to convince clients to trust you, you will be reeling from the effects of possible lawsuits and a drop in market share and share prices. It is, therefore, imperative that you opt to be proactive and take strong measures to protect your business from a data breach.

Here are 9 proven ways to protect your small business from data breaches:

Encrypt your systems

Using robust encryption is one sure way to keep crucial data away from prying eyes as you transmit it over the web. If you have a business or e-commerce website, you must invest in an SSL certificate to protect both you and your site visitors from man-in-the-middle attacks. There are diversified SSL certificates and for e-commerce website EV SSL certificate is an ideal choice. It encrypts the data transmitted between browsers and web servers to prevent hackers from intercepting it. 

They also increase client trust, as today’s internet users are emancipated and know that an HTTPS site is far more secure and worth visiting than an HTTP site. Again, Certificates are a mandatory requirement for PCI compliance and browsers.

You can also use encryption tools like BitLocker and FileVault, to encrypt your emails and other valuable business correspondence. You can also use a VPN to maintain privacy through security procedures and tunneling protocols.

Use stronger passwords

Use weak passwords like your birthday or having the same passwords for all your business accounts, and it will be open season for hackers to have their way with your business data and systems.

If a hacker manages to enter one account, then they will be able to gain access into all the others. Consider replacing all your weak passwords with robust passphrases instead, which is a combination of words, symbols, and numbers.

Backups

There are hundreds of reasons why you need to have several copies of your most sensitive data in the cloud and off your business site. Anything from a power outage, employee error, server crash or even a natural disaster can ruin your storage devices; not to mention the effect a hacker may have on your databases or business website.

To have an effective backup strategy, have a remote automated backup schedule that does not interfere with your work, test your backups’ response to different types of security-related events, and continuously monitor them for any problems. 

Update your software

One serious misstep that most business owners and employees make is putting off that software update for later until it is too late, and a hacker has found a vulnerability that they can use to infiltrate your systems.

Updating not only your antivirus software but also your operating systems and other applications you use in your business is incredibly important.

The software vendors and developer’s workday and night to determine holes and designing patches to fix them, and the only way to get the most out of their diligent work is to update your software often.

Invest in end-point security

End-point security protocols are one sure way to prevent the smart devices and computers connected to your company network from accidentally causing severe data breaches. It works by blocking and disabling any malicious websites and emails from entering your networks using firewalls, spam filters and web filters.

End-point protection software is a low-cost method to ensure business network security, especially if you have a Bring-Your-Own-Device work policy. Your business should have draft BYOD policy when employees remotely or in-house do communicate, check mail or browse any site. As a single click on phishing mail could welcome hacker to infiltrate company’s system.

Carry out regular audits and risk assessments

The General Data Protection Regulation insists that businesses must carry out regular audits of their data processing operations and comply with the principles that ensure further data protection. In addition to complying with the law, these regular audits will ensure that personal identifiable client information is kept safe and that serious risks are mitigated.

Some companies even go the extra mile by hiring a white hacker to test the effectiveness of their security protocols; if you have the budget for it, hiring a proficient white hacker is one sure fire way to ensure that your security is robust enough and to determine potential loopholes.

Watch your systems

Remote monitoring is a technique used by businesses to watch the activity of your networks and information systems 24/7. These methods allow your IT team to stay abreast of any irregularities and breaches and act before any severe consequences occur.

You can use an MSP to track the running of your systems remotely and give your IT team real-time alerts in the case of any security event.

Train your staff on the importance and techniques of cyber security

You may install the most recent high-tech security measures for your servers and workstation, but still, get hacked because of employee errors. Most of all data breaches usually have a human error component, so you need to bring your staff on board to ensure that they safeguard data security in their day-to-day work activities.

A cyber security awareness program is one way to make sure that all new and existing employees have the information they need to keep your business’ networks and information systems secure.

Regulate access to sensitive data

In addition to ensuring that your staff has all information they need to uphold data security, they are usually seen as the path of least resistance by hackers, and they may not even need to be in contact with your systems for them to be used as access. You thus need to ensure that every employee has access to only the information they need to work effectively. In addition to limiting access, make sure that the senior employees with access to sensitive data use multi-factor authentication systems to log in to ensure further data safety.

Conclusion:

While it may not be possible to be entirely immune to cyber criminal attacks, it is imperative that you take as many proactive measures as possible to protect your business from the severe fallout of a security event. Consider hiring professional IT personnel and Managed Service Providers to handle all your security responsibilities and increase your chances of having a more robust security policy.

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