With more businesses than ever doing business online, the threats to their security have never been greater. Finding the right tools and techniques to defend against cybercriminals is critical to keeping and earning the trust of your customers. Here are six key strategies that business owners should use for keeping their company’s data secure.
1. Protect Your Automated Systems
Too many business owners think that automation means hands-off. That’s not true when it comes to security. The machine learning algorithms that power artificial intelligence and its technological offshoots are uniquely vulnerable to attack. That’s because the technology is so new that vulnerabilities are little understood compared to older programs. Even so, business process automation is integral to modern operations, so it’s important to prioritize machine learning security when building your infrastructure.
2. Install Antivirus and Firewall Systems
It should go without saying that every device used for business purposes should have basic antivirus software installed. In an age of decentralization where many employees are based somewhere other than headquarters, this can actually be more difficult than it sounds. Defenses need to be standardized, and they also need to be scaled to meet the needs of each specific organization. This doctrine is called endpoint security and is becoming the norm, especially in companies with a widely distributed workforce.
Firewalls are a good example of this. These systems filter incoming and outgoing web traffic including emails, which are a major vector for so-called “phishing” attacks. Tailor your digital defenses to your specific needs, then get everyone with a device used for business purposes on the same page.
3. Train Employees Relentlessly
Speaking of email protocols, business owners are often surprised to learn just how many security breaches happen due to human error. According to a joint study by Stanford University and security firm Tessian, 88% of breaches can be traced back to mistakes by personnel. Many of the previously-mentioned phishing attacks can be prevented if employees know what exactly a fraudulent email looks like. Insisting upon professionalism in phone conversations and internet usage can lower overall risk as well. Training should take place at regular intervals and be kept simple rather than overly technical. A little awareness can truly go a long way.
4. Backup Your Data
Data loss itself can be costly. It’s estimated that every file compromised in a breach costs the business around $146 regardless of who’s responsible. Having backups of all your important data can mitigate some of this loss by aiding the recovery process if a breach does occur, and storing your most vital files off-network can prevent such loss in the first place. Putting vital information on flash drives or just keeping good old-fashioned hard copies are both solutions worth considering.
5. Install Software Updates
It’s all too common for users to ignore prompts to update their software. They can be time-consuming (and thus annoying), and people often think there’s no need for them since system performance seems fine. That’s a very poor mindset to have since those updates typically include patches to newly-discovered security vulnerabilities. Threats evolve quickly, and new upgrades, while not mandatory, should never be overlooked, especially if a new form of attack is making the news.
6. Prioritize Physical Security
Something that often gets neglected in data loss prevention is office security. Physically tampering with or stealing devices is actually a common tactic of cybercriminals. Consider installing a CCTV system in your building to monitor comings and goings both during and after business hours. For a deeper investment, consider biometric security systems, which are becoming even more effective now that AI-driven threat analysis algorithms are getting more sophisticated. You don’t have to create a security state, just know the vulnerable points of your building and cover them.
The internet can be both lucrative and intimidating for new entrepreneurs. When planning your digital infrastructure, it’s worth doing research on both the many threats out there and the many countermeasures to them that are now available.