Cybersecurity is a hot topic among major organizations, but do you give it much thought for your small business? You might not realize it but small businesses are a primary target for cyber attacks.

According to the Verizon Data Breach Investigation Report published in the final quarter of 2017, 61 percent of breaches target smaller businesses, an increase of eight percent from the previous year.

“I can’t believe how many small businesses don’t take cybercrime seriously! If they saw the businesses I have seen wiped out, they might start to take action,” a CIT expert told Steve Straus of U.S. Today. “My business is booming because small business doesn’t know that they are target #1.”

Failing to take cybersecurity seriously could mean the end of your small business. About 90 percent of small businesses don’t use data protection for company and customer information, according to UPS Capital research. Unfortunately, the average cost of an attack is between $84k and $148k, which puts 60 percent of small businesses out of business.

Are you taking proper security measures for your online organization? Here’s what you can do.

1. Be Careful Where You Click

Downloading attachments or clicking on email links or pop-up windows can lead you down a dark tunnel with viruses and spam. Your computer and your data might not make it out alive.

Additionally, be wary when using your business computer for personal use. “When you are shopping online for instance, and get an add pop up, clicking and closing on one of those might actually install a malicious piece of code on your machine,” Martin Borret, engineer and CTO at IBM security Europe said to Independent. Malicious code downloaded onto your work computer during personal internet time could open doors for hackers.

2. Expand Security Features

Most online businesses have security features already installed, like anti-virus software, basic web hosting security, and firewalls. However, according to an article from Cato Networks, firewalls are expensive to upgrade and maintain. They recommend using a cloud platform to “alleviate the cost, complexity and risk associated with deploying and maintaining appliances.”

Expanding key security features on the back end of your website and online transactions could significantly reduce your risk of data loss and hacking. For example, email encryption should be used for any transfers of sensitive information. Secure checkout, VPN or SD-WAN connections, spam filtering, DDOs attacks protection, content backup, secure data centers, and more can also help to secure your business.

3. Train Employees and Provide Literature

Most employees are simply unaware of the cybersecurity threats that face a typical business, and they can contribute to the problem. Weak and oft repeated passwords, personal internet use on company computers, personal devices connected to an enterprise network, unsanctioned social media posting of private information, and more can increase your online threats exponentially.

The solution is to offer regular trainings where your employees can learn about common dangers and how to handle them. Create a list of policies and procedures for employees to follow as well, both to prevent cyber attacks and to mitigate them when they come.

4. Improve Your Authentication Process

As modern authentication standards evolve, so do the attacks designed to break them. For that reason, beefing up security around user authentication (for both employees and customers) can stop threats before they occur.

Consider implementing two-factor authentication for all administrators and customers to prevent brute force attacks. You can also require stronger passwords for accounts. Unfortunately, the most common passwords are variations of 123456 or ABC123. People also use birthdays, names, and other information that’s easy to figure out.

Institute a policy that requires all account holders to use strong passwords. These passwords should be changed often, and they should not be used across multiple platforms. Stronger passwords will add a valuable layer of protection to your online platform.

5. Stay Up to Date

The software you use gets updated to prevent security breaches all the time, but you only have access to this protection if you update your software regularly. “Hackers are always looking for vulnerabilities in the software your business uses,” reads an article from Global Sign. “This could be as simple as finding a way into your Windows network. The software companies themselves work hard to create patches and updates that fix these vulnerabilities so it’s important to update them as soon as an update is available.”

You can also support online security by staying current with information and events surrounding threats and solutions, particularly in your industry. Subscribe to tech journals and read about cybersecurity in your spare time.

The tools to secure your online business are there if you’ll educate yourself and take advantage of them. You could become another small business statistic, or you could take action now to prevent an attack that could potentially derail your business.

Author's Bio: 

My name is Jessica and I am an independent journalist, freelance blogger, and technology junkie with a passion for music, arts, and the outdoors. One of my greatest passions and joy is assisting communities and business owners. My utmost desire is to help people and business owners to succeed and prosper in their personal and business affairs. I share, comment, write and edit popular news stories.