As the internet evolves, so does cybercrime. Research shows that cyber attacks are becoming more frequent, longer to resolve and more costly to companies than ever before. The internet has provided businesses, both big and small, with numerous ways in which to market, recruit, communicate, and conduct business online.

While it’s easy to believe that data breaches only happen with large enterprises, small to medium sized businesses are equally affected. In fact, small businesses are common targets for cybercriminals. Therefore, cybersecurity practices are essential to the longevity of any small business. Here are five practical tips for ensuring the cyber safety of your small business.

            Secure Your Wi-Fi Network

When acquiring new Wi-Fi equipment, it tends to come with a default password, so ensure your network is secured with your own unique password. When setting up your Wi-Fi network, you are usually provided with options as to which security protocol you would like to use. Depending on your router model, you will be provided with WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access), WPA2 or WPA3, with WPA 3 being the most secure option. Older router models may not pick up WPA3 and may only provide you with WPA or WPA2 security options. Additionally, you should always keep your router firmware up to date. This is the preinstalled software that controls how your Wi-Fi device behaves. It is recommended that you update your router firmware at least once a year to fix any existing bugs that could risk the security of your data.

            Use a Firewall and Antivirus Software

A firewall is, in essence, a barrier between your safe internal network and the public internet. It monitors all incoming and outgoing network traffic based on previously determined security policies. Firewalls come in three delivery methods, namely cloud-based, hardware-based, and software-based. Some firewalls contain virus-scanning capabilities, but if your firewall does not contain these capabilities, it is highly advisable that you invest in a reputable antivirus software, such as Bitdefender for Windows and Webroot for Mac.

            Enable Multi-Factor Authentication

Enabling Multi-Factor Authentication allows you to add an additional layer of identification verification when logging into accounts or social media profiles. For example, an account may require you to enter your password and then provide a code that was sent to a verified mobile device or email address. This provides an extra layer of security to make it harder for hackers to breach your accounts.

            Use Secure Passphrases

Instead of single-word passwords, try using easy to remember passphrases to increase the security of your accounts. Your passphrase could be the title of your favourite book, or a string of seemingly unrelated words that you can easily remember. Passphrases are much harder for humans and machines to crack while still being easily memorable to you. A secure passphrase includes capital and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. The longer your passphrase is, the more secure your account will be. Remember to use different passwords or passphrases for different accounts. It is advised that you use a password manager to protect all your account passwords in the same place. This way, you’ll only really need to remember one “master password” in order to access to all your passwords.

            Get Educated

The most priceless form of cybersecurity is the knowledge of cybersecurity itself. It is imperative that both you and your staff members are well educated on cybersecurity practices. Educate yourself and your staff on how to identify, avoid, and report cybersecurity risks. Training should never be a once-off occurrence, and you should include yourself in training courses. You should schedule yearly or semi-yearly training and refresher courses for your staff to remind them of the importance of cybersecurity. Help your employees understand the importance of basic cyber hygiene, like keeping their software up to date and knowing what to do when they encounter a cyber threat.

Protecting your business from cyberattacks and threats is one of the most important things you can do as a business owner. It may seem overwhelming, but by choosing to adopt these safety practices, your chances of your cybersecurity being breached will significantly lessen.