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15 Approaches to Enhance Cybersecurity in Small Businesses

7 Mins read

In the digital age, enhancing cybersecurity is crucial for small businesses, so we’ve gathered insights from CEOs, directors, and other experts to address this challenge. From educating staff and implementing multi-factor authentication to training employees in cybersecurity best practices, explore the fifteen comprehensive strategies provided by seasoned professionals to fortify your business against cyber threats.

Educate Staff and Implement MFA

Educate your staff. Your biggest threats include weak passwords, phishing, and scams. Your people are your best defense when they receive regular, interesting security awareness training that equips your team to recognize them. It saves money, safeguards information, and fosters a culture of cyber-awareness. Invest in your staff, and you’ll see an increase in defenses!

Implement Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) to double-lock your data! It provides an additional layer of security on top of password protection, much like an extra guard at your digital door. Phishing attempts? Not a problem! Not even pilfered keys can get past MFA. This easy-to-use yet effective solution significantly improves the security of your small business. Recall that your best security software is your staff of alert workers.

Omar Masri, Software Entrepreneur and Founder of Mamori.Io,

Secure Employee Devices and Use VPNs

Workers frequently utilize a variety of devices for work, such as tablets, computers, and cellphones. Ensuring these devices are secure is a crucial component of overall cybersecurity. Training curricula should address the importance of maintaining software and operating system updates, as these typically contain security patches. 

It’s crucial to inform staff members about the dangers of using public Wi-Fi networks. Emphasize the use of virtual private networks (VPNs) when connecting to public Wi-Fi to encrypt data transmission and minimize the possibility of interception by bad actors.

Tim Parker, Director, Syntax Integration

Conduct a “Hack Yourself Day”

One offbeat yet effective approach to bolster cybersecurity in a small business is by implementing a “Hack Yourself Day.” It involves simulating a controlled cyberattack on your systems. This could be conducted by hiring ethical hackers or using specialized software to identify vulnerabilities within your network, applications, or website. 

The goal is to uncover potential weak points before cybercriminals do, hence allowing you to proactively strengthen your defenses. This hands-on approach not only helps in identifying and patching vulnerabilities but also educates your team about potential security threats and the importance of vigilance.

Ben Richardson, Director, Acuity Training

Establish a Proactive Security Program

So much of cybersecurity planning is reactive. Companies have a breach, and they react accordingly. Many issues can be avoided with proactivity. Having a security and compliance program in place will help your team determine where to focus their efforts. 

We have been very impressed with automatic compliance monitoring platforms like Drata. These platforms are a good way to create some accountability and have an idea of what to do as part of the program.

Trevor Ewen, COO, QBench

Focus on Fundamental Cybersecurity Practices

I once spoke to a mentor of mine who was a cybersecurity engineer, and his advice for my business was to do all the little things right. There’s no single trick that’s going to protect your business from attacks.

Doing all the little things right means investing in a good firewall, having strong passwords, sending your team for basic cybersecurity training, not clicking on sketchy emails, etc.

Doing all these things right is what’s going to protect your small business from attacks.

Scott Lieberman, Owner, Touchdown Money

Leverage Managed IT Services

Small businesses can benefit from the expertise, scalability, and round-the-clock support of this cost-effective cybersecurity solution. With a focus on core functions, these services include proactive maintenance, enhanced security measures, and robust data backup. Compliance with regulations is ensured, and access to advanced technologies allows businesses to stay competitive without the upfront costs. 

In summary, opting for managed IT services allows small businesses to efficiently manage their IT needs, freeing them to concentrate on essential aspects of business growth.

Campbell Tourgis, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Wainbee

Lock Company Mobile SIM Cards

When boosting cybersecurity in a small business, sometimes the most straightforward actions can be the most effective. Take locking the SIM cards on all company mobile phones, for instance. It’s a straightforward step, but its impact on security is significant. By locking the SIM cards, you’re putting up a barrier against unauthorized access to mobile data. This is especially crucial if a phone gets lost or stolen, a standard risk that can lead to serious security breaches.

What’s great about this method is its simplicity. You don’t need to be tech-savvy or invest in expensive security systems. Locking SIM cards is a quick, easy, and cost-effective way to protect your business. For small businesses, where every resource counts, this is an efficient way to strengthen your defense against cyber threats. It’s a small step, but it goes a long way in keeping your company’s information safe.

Shane McEvoy, MD, Flycast Media

Invest in AP Automation Software

AP automation software serves as an essential tool to fortify small businesses’ cybersecurity framework against both external threats and internal vulnerabilities. This is especially crucial in small businesses, where the risk of human errors looms large due to frequent context-switching and less formalized structures. AP automation helps by encrypting sensitive payment data and securely storing sensitive financial information from unauthorized access and cyber threats. 

AP automation also enforces compliance with security policies consistently, cutting down the chances of data breaches. Additionally, the software’s real-time monitoring and alert systems promptly detect and address potential security issues. It’s a worthwhile investment for teams looking to bolster their cybersecurity and prevent payment fraud.

Katie White, Content Marketing Manager, Centime

Perform Regular Security Audits

You need to conduct regular security audits to identify vulnerabilities and assess the effectiveness of your cybersecurity measures. Security audits help identify vulnerabilities in the organization’s systems, networks, and processes. By conducting regular assessments, small businesses can proactively discover and address potential weaknesses before they are exploited by attackers.

Customer trust is crucial for small businesses, and regular security audits demonstrate a commitment to protecting customer data and maintaining a secure environment. This can enhance customer trust and loyalty, which is particularly important in industries that handle sensitive information.

Meghan Freed, Managing Co-Partner, Freed Marcroft

Cultivate a Security Awareness Culture

One effective approach to bolstering cybersecurity in a small business is to establish a culture of security awareness among all employees. This strategy transcends mere technological solutions and acknowledges that human error or lack of awareness is often the weakest link in the security chain. Implementing regular training sessions and updates on the latest cyber threats can empower employees to recognize and respond appropriately to potential risks, such as phishing attacks, suspicious emails, or unusual network activity.

The beauty of this approach lies in its simplicity and cost-effectiveness. Small businesses can leverage a variety of free or low-cost online resources and tools for cybersecurity training. Regularly scheduled training sessions, combined with practical exercises like simulated phishing tests, can significantly enhance employees’ ability to identify and prevent cyber threats.

Additionally, fostering an environment where security is everyone’s responsibility encourages vigilance and proactive behavior. This collective awareness acts as a frontline defense, significantly reducing the likelihood of successful cyber attacks and safeguarding the business’s digital assets. In today’s digital landscape, where threats are ever-evolving, a well-informed and alert team can be one of the most effective shields against cyber threats.

Kamran Maqbool, CEO, Green Cloud Hosting

Develop an Incident Response Plan

Since no system is 100% reliable, reducing the effects of a security incident requires a well-defined incident response plan. Employees should learn through training what to do in the event of a cybersecurity incident, including how to report it and communicate with others. 

Regularly conduct exercises or simulations to ensure staff members are equipped to handle scenarios that arise in the real world. Proactively addressing vulnerabilities in the incident response plan facilitates ongoing enhancements.

Paul Phelps, Managing Director, Solent Power

Benchmark with NIST Cybersecurity Framework

Deciding on a compliance standard to benchmark off of: If the small business isn’t required to obtain a specific compliance, then using the NIST Cybersecurity Framework (CSF) is a great benchmark, as the requirements serve as a checklist. From there, I would build a roadmap that identifies how the business will address the requirements and the timeline involved.

Ali Allage, CEO, BlueSteel Cybersecurity

Implement Role-Based Access Control

A simple yet underrated tip is granting employees access only to the information they need for their tasks. Implementing role-based access control (RBAC) systems is one way to go about this. 

All you need to do is assign access levels based on job roles, ensuring that employees can only access information relevant to their specific functions. This granular control minimizes the risk of a single compromised account compromising the entire system. It’s equally important to update and review user access permissions regularly. 

So, if an employee shifts roles or takes on new responsibilities, you need to adjust their access rights. It’s a small step that helps prevent outdated permissions from becoming a potential security vulnerability.

Gary Gray, CFO,

Prioritize Staff Awareness in All Departments

In the realm of small businesses, where resources are scarce, I’ve found that putting staff education and awareness first greatly enhances cybersecurity.

There are two key reasons why employee education is important for cybersecurity. First, as employees are frequently the weakest link in a security system, training them to identify typical threats like phishing schemes can greatly lower the likelihood of breaches. Second, frequent training sessions and updates on cybersecurity best practices contribute to the development of an environment where all staff members share responsibility for security.

We provide frequent training sessions for all employees—not just the IT staff—to put this strategy into practice. These seminars address a broad range of subjects, including advanced phishing attempt detection and basic password security. We use real-world examples and simulations to make the training engaging and useful.

Our experience has shown that this strategy not only strengthens the company’s overall cybersecurity posture but also gives staff members the tools they need to be proactive in identifying and averting potential security risks. In terms of protecting the company’s digital assets, it’s an affordable approach with significant returns.

Eugene Klimaszewski, President, Mammoth Security

Train Employees in Cybersecurity Best Practices

One approach can significantly enhance security measures for small businesses: education and training. Ensuring all employees are knowledgeable about cybersecurity risks and proactive in preventing cyber threats is essential. 

By providing regular training, companies can promote a security culture and foster an understanding of safe online practices. Additionally, small businesses should consider implementing routine software updates, strong password policies, and regularly backing up important data. Through education and training, small businesses can take an essential step toward protecting themselves from cyber-attacks and safeguarding their sensitive information.

Ben Goodman, Chief Executive Officer, 4A Security

Brett Farmiloe is the founder of Featured, a Q&A platform that connects brands with expert insights.

Cybersecurity stock image by RerF_Studio/Shutterstock

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