Since the 1970’s, cybersecurity has played an important role in protecting businesses and their devices from the grasps of cybercriminals. Technology since then has evolved and has opened new doors to security for businesses of all sizes. This is more relevant today than ever before as we’ve seen a significant increase of business operations switching to e-commerce or offering online assistance in response to the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020.

While several small businesses have become more active in their cybersecurity efforts, far too many remain vulnerable to rising cyber threats. Justin Fier, director of cyber intelligence and analytics at cyber defense firm Darktrace, cautions, “Attackers are getting smarter, attacks are occurring faster, and incidents are becoming more complex...”  Fier continued,  “The latest cyberattacks speedily exploit vulnerabilities in computer networks — which [can be infected] like human immune systems, changing thousands of times per second — and can overtake even major networks in an hour and a half.”

Despite an increasingly more frightening threat landscape for small businesses, a recent study found that 43% of small businesses are completely without a defense plan. This cybersecurity strategy (or lack thereof) is dangerous as their business, employee, and customer data is put at jeopardy without proper security measures in place. To combat this growing issue, more states and industries are attempting to address cybersecurity and data privacy risk by implementing new compliance measures. By doing so, protecting the privacy of one’s data has become so important that there’s a day each year (Data Privacy Day) used to spread awareness and stress the importance of using best practices at home, work, and in the community. Now, businesses are under more pressures to be compliant with new mandates by educating their employees and strengthening their cybersecurity solutions. 

Be proactive and begin protecting your business by encouraging a privacy aware culture in your workplace. In all operations, your employees and the devices used should be working together to ensure company data and intellectual property is secure. By adding this mentality into your business’ overall cybersecurity strategy, your company will be better prepared to deflect any cyber criminal incidents that come your way. 

To get started, consider adding the following to your cyber strategy …


Update Your Passwords 

Strong passwords are your #1 defense against cyber criminals accessing your accounts. Be sure to update them often, and keep them safe with a password manager like LastPass or 1Password. Password managers store your passwords securely and only require you to remember one master password to access your vault. Users also benefit from password managers as it eliminates the struggle of creating your own passwords by including a password generator that will create powerful, unique passwords for you.

When creating passwords manually, be sure to follow this tried and true formula:

It is unique and at least 8 characters.
There is a mixture of uppercase and lowercase letters.
Symbols and numbers are included.
The password or passphrase isn’t easily guessable. 


Multi-Factor Authentication 

Passwords alone do not provide enough security to sensitive accounts. There are advanced hacking tools that test thousands of passwords per second, making it easier than ever for cyber criminals to crack into someone's account. This is where the work of a multi-factor authentication system comes into play. Multi-factor authentication provides an extra layer of defense. Before accessing a highly sensitive account like your online banking, multi-factor authentication requires you to confirm your identity through another trusted device. Unless the hacker was in possession of both devices, your stored data remains secure even if a hacker was able to bypass your password. 


Update Your Network

Be sure to have a sense of urgency when it comes to your business’ software updates. They serve a crucial role in protecting your devices from malicious malware and viruses as well as detecting any vulnerabilities that need to be patched. Other security measures like firewalls and anit-virus solutions should be in place and updated regularly as well.  Check with your IT support often to ensure patches and other software maintenance is applied regularly to prevent cyber criminals from invading your network.

Educate Your Employees

It’s important to get your employees involved and educate them on their role in maintaining privacy within the workplace. An easy way to accomplish this is by hosting a companywide Lunch and Learn as suggested by the National Cybersecurity Alliance. You can also encourage employees to be #PrivacyAware by posting memos or posters around the office as a reminder. 

If you want to go a step further, be sure to nominate your employees to be privacy champions in the month of January. Every January 28th is an annual commemoration of Data Privacy Day, adopted by the United States and Canada in 2008. The day stands as a reminder to educate others on how our online data is used and the importance of maintaining privacy in order to protect both personal and company data. (For more information on how to become a privacy champion, read here.)


Own Your Business’ Social Media Presence 

Nearly every business owns at least one social media account to market their brand and engage with potential customers. However, small businesses have voiced concerns relating to maintaining security and safety while using social media platforms. It is best practice, for both private and public accounts, to avoid sharing more information than you are comfortable with by managing your privacy settings. The National Cybersecurity Alliance has a great resource on how to accomplish this here for all popular sites and devices. 


Be an Example

Last but not least, stand as an example among your peers. Be mindful when posting about your business, employees, or customers to ensure you don’t accidentally share their personal information. Engage in best practices and share resources and tips on your own social platforms. By doing so, you will help spread awareness, keeping those around you safer from cyber threats.

We’d love to hear how your business is being #PrivacyAware. Share the hashtag on your social platforms and tag us on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook 


Free Download: The Cybersecurity Crisis Report

Do not underestimate the severity and likelihood of cyber attacks on small businesses.

Download our FREE Cybersecurity Crisis Report to find out about the urgent and critical protections every business must have in place NOW to protect their financial accounts, customer data, private information, and reputation from the tsunami of cyber crime targeting small businesses.