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5 Tips for Keeping Your Small Business Safe Online!

5 Tips for Keeping Your Small Business Safe Online

5 Tips for Keeping Your Small Business Safe Online Workplace Connect

As a small business owner, we understand that you will manage and secure most of the business data yourself therefore we want to give some quick tips on how you can practice workplace safety online; and avoid hackers or scammers from taking sensitive information. It was found that one small business in the UK is hacked every 19 seconds and we would hate for this to be you therefore we will equip you with the necessary information to prevent this from happening. Implementing each one of these tips will provide you with peace of mind and help you recognise the signs to look out for when going through content, websites online and public wi-fi.

 

1) SSL Certificate

Your small company website should have an SSL certificate, not only will this protect your business and its reputation, but it will also provide customers with a sense of security that your website can be trusted. If you chose not to have this on your website, you leave it highly vulnerable to hackers no matter what other measures you put in place; this means all of your businesses data can be taken and any customers who chose to provide you with their personal details can have their data stolen too. For the best practice of online workplace safety, you should purchase this for your small business website.

There are a couple of different types of SSL certificates you can purchase for your small business; each has a different layer of protection. Since you are a small business, you would most likely just need to purchase the Comodo SSL certificate which will give your domain and subdomains protection. However, there are also types of SSL certificates which offer protection for multiple domains and subdomains therefore you should choose what suits your business best.

The benefits of purchasing an SSL Certificate for your small company include:

    • Protection of your data / your customers’ data – this certificate will encrypt all of your information and only display it for the intended recipient (in this case you) meaning it will protect against hackers. Information that gets protected includes IDs, passwords, card details and other personal/ sensitive business information.
    • You will be ranked higher in search results from Google – the Google algorithm will choose to rank small businesses higher that have purchased an SSL certificate for their website.
    • Validates the website as your own –the process for an SSL certificate includes a third-party validation process (from certificate authority) which will build credibility for your website and shows that the website belongs to you. Not only will this build trust with customers, but it will also prevent phishing attacks.

 

2) Enforce the Use of Strong Passwords and Multi-Factor Authentication

To protect your small company further and practice office safety it is recommended to ensure yourself and all employees have strong passwords and multi-factor authentication for anything that is used for the business including devices, emails, social media and other relevant software. This will make it much harder for hackers to access your data or for them to guess an employee’s password.

The first step towards this tip is to set a secure password, it is recommended by the National Office Cyber Security Centre to set a password which contains three random words that are unrelated to each other. The password should additionally include a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, special characters, and numbers to ensure it is as secure as possible and protects your small business from online threats or attacks; it has been found that it will only take hackers 10 minutes to crack a password that only uses 6 characters which are all lowercase, therefore, this is a quick but very effective method of protecting your small business online. You and your employees should avoid the following when creating strong passwords:

  • Personal names
  • Family names
  • Pet names
  • Your birthday
  • Place where you were born

The next step in this tip is to set up multi-factor authentication on any necessary logins which hold important data for your small company. Usually this will be either a phone call to provide access or a code sent to your phone to provide access. Most account logins will let you set up multi-factor authentication through the settings options they have available. Research has found that multi-factor authentication prevents 99.9% of all attacks which means you can have peace of mind that your business will be safe and trusted by customers.

Click here to see advice from National Cyber Security Centre: Password policy: updating your approach – NCSC.GOV.UK

 

3) Install and Update Anti-Virus / Anti-Malware Software on All Devices

Installing and updating anti-virus / anti-malware software on all devices used by you and your employees will provide a good layer of protection for your small business from malicious attacks. These types of software have the ability to detect any potential viruses or threats that come onto the device and will then work autonomously to protect or fix your devices. They are able to block ads and spam which could be threatening to the device.

Another benefit is that it protects data and files stored on the device (which means your business’s sensitive information will be safe) as well as protection for removable devices such as USBs; therefore, you can rely on it to stay secure and uncorrupted.

A final benefit is that it will prevent hackers and scammers from accessing your personal information which means that you don’t have to do as much personally to protect your devices and your business will be kept safe online. It has been reported that anti-virus programs such as Bitdefender and Avira can defend as much as 100% of cyber-attacks.

You can tell if your or your employees’ devices are attacked or affected by a virus if it has:

  • Slowed down
  • There are damaged or deleted files
  • Reformatted hard disk (all information/files have been deleted)
  • Constant device crashes
  • Lost data
  • It is unable to complete any tasks with or without the internet

After you have installed the software, it is vital to make sure you update it frequently because this will make the software more precise; since the developers have added data which will protect your device from newly discovered viruses, spyware, and malware. You can set it up so the programs are able to update themselves which can help take some pressure off yourself and ensure you are constantly protected to the highest level possible.

A final note is to make sure you always renew your subscriptions and update the software as it is announced to ensure your small business has maximum protection.

 

4) Be Cautious of Links Sent to You and Pop-ups

As a small company owner, you should always be wary of odd links sent to you encase it is an attempted attack from a cyber-criminal attempting to harm you, your employees, or your business. The case is the same with pop-ups, always look at them carefully to ensure you don’t press the wrong button which triggers an attack e.g. harmful pop-ups will say close (which takes you to their phishing websites) however there will be an ‘X’ button at the top which lets you avoid this. Both of these incidents are caused by phishing and ransomware attacks.

It could be worthwhile researching phishing attacks at least once a week to stay informed on what the recent techniques are and how to avoid them; it would also be recommended to go through this with your employees to promote workplace safety. In addition to this, you should train your staff to be aware of the kinds of messages and links/pop-ups so everyone in the workplace knows how to conduct themselves and what to look out for; this minimises the chance of your business being put at risk. Cisco’s research found that at least one person would click a phishing link in around 86% of organisations.

A general tip would be to avoid clicking on links from or to websites that don’t have an HTTP next to the website URL because this means it is not secure for you to access. Furthermore, don’t click random email links from people you don’t know because this could trigger a cyber-attack and you could be at risk of losing all your data. Finally, use ad blockers and anti-virus software to prevent your small business from going to phishing websites or being exposed to a cyber threat.

Things to look out for include:

  • No personal details (addresses you personally) / they could address it as dear customer/user/sir or madam/student
  • Poor spelling
  • Bad grammar
  • Poor punctuation
  • A sense of urgency created (you have 24 hours to do this otherwise…)

 

5) Use a VPN

A VPN (a virtual private network) will be useful for small business owners because it provides online privacy and makes everything you do untraceable including all online activities, shopping, sending emails and sending out payments. This is especially useful if you like to work in public places because when connecting to public Wi-Fi you have to sign up to it, which means the provider and any eavesdroppers on the same network as you can track what you are doing which can put your business at risk because your data and devices could be hacked.

VPN allows you to stay hidden and anonymous therefore hackers are less likely to find your details or attack your business; no third parties will be able to access your data. This means everything you need to do for your business and your details will be kept secure. It has been researched that 24.7% of the world’s Wi-Fi spots have no encryption at all which means anyone can access it and store all traffic and data that comes through the Wi-Fi which leaves your small business vulnerable; therefore, it could be worthwhile enforcing VPN as part of the workplace safety strategy.

 

5 Tips for Keeping Your Small Business Safe Online Workplace Connect

 

Speak to us today to see how we can help your business online security: Workplace Connect Contact 

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