All too frequently, there are stories in the news about hackers breaching the cyber defenses of major corporations and stealing highly sensitive data. However, while most of the news coverage focuses on major companies, thousands of small businesses are also the victims of frequent cyber-attacks. Unlike the major companies, they often don’t have the same budget to deal with these attacks if they have a budget for such at all.
Analysis has revealed that 48 percent of these attacks are executed with malicious intent. The rest are the result of human error. And at the end of the day, every business is a potential target. The following are things that businesses can do to reduce the risk of a security breach.
Choose a Reliable Web Host
Where your business website is hosted and the security features it offers is important. While there is no lone feature offered that makes one hosting company more secure than the others, a collection of strong individual factors that work together to provide a secure hosting environment is what you should be looking for.
The following are security features that a prospective web hosting company should have to offer strong website security:
- DDoS protection
- Domain name privacy
- Security protection
- Spam filtering
- SSL security certificate
- Virus protection
The list will provide a good place to start in finding the best secure hosting you can acquire for your business website.
Secure Your Website
Securing your business website itself can be done in a couple of ways. It can be secured using SSL security and, if your website is a content management system (CMS) like WordPress or Drupal, it can also be protected using plugins and other
A standard encryption technology, secured socket layers (SSL) are frequently used to establish a secure link between a web browser and a server. All data passed between the web server and browsers using the secured link is encrypted for privacy and great protection. Such a secure connection can’t be established without an SSL certificate.
Aside from the security benefits they provide, use of an SSL certificate comes with many search engine optimization (SEO) benefits for your business on Google, the world’s largest and most popular search engine. They are also more affordable and accessible than ever with projects like Let’s Encrypt.
Many businesses use CMS websites like WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla because of their ease of use and great versatility. These sites also offer plugins and tools for enhanced security.
WordPress, for example, offers many great security plugins, many for free, that add additional layers of safety to their sites including the following:
- All In One WP Security & Firewall
- iThemes Security
- Sucuri Security
In using such security plugins, you attain access to extra features that the CMS itself doesn’t out of the box. These plugins and tools can scan for malware, protect against brute force attacks, and establish firewalls. They can be set up to monitor, scan, and notify you of any security issues.
While building and maintaining a website is easier than ever today, things can still go wrong. Yes, your website could be hacked but it could also break because of an update or be disabled because a crucial file was accidentally deleted. Regular backups are vital here because they can get your website back up and running in such situations within minutes.
Think about the files stored on your computer network. Hard drives fail all the time — do you have a failsafe to save your files in case something goes wrong? Nearly 70% of businesses that lose their data quickly go out of business, so it’s critical to use a managed IT service or cloud storage to back up your data regularly. Backups should be made on a frequent basis and they should be stored in more than one location.
Install a Good Antivirus Software
Designed to safeguard your computer system from malicious worms, malware, software worms, spyware, Trojans, and more, antivirus software can ensure the protection of your business’s classified information, data, and identity. These programs also allow you to optimize your company’s performance and security. The best ones are easy to use and understand, protect you from current and future threats, and don’t use tons of resources on your computer system and impede your other workflows.
If you’re not currently using antivirus software, the following list of top-rated programs for 2019, both free and premium, will provide a good place to start:
- Bitdefender Antivirus Plus 2019
- Norton Antivirus Basic
- Webroot SecureAnywhere Antivirus
- ESET NOD32 Antivirus
- F-Secure Antivirus SAFE
Train Your Employees on Basic Digital Security
Your company’s employees can be one of your best lines of security defense – or they can be your biggest risk. In an end-user security survey conducted in 2017 by Dell, it was ascertained that almost three in four employees are ready to share confidential data, nearly one in three think it’s okay to take such data with them when they resign from or exit the company, and roughly three quarters of employees think companies put security ahead of their productivity.
There are great benefits in training employees on basic digital security. Armed with such knowledge, they will learn to keep the computers and devices free of malware and suspicious apps, data, and programs. They’ll learn to use strong passwords of adequate length, not to use the same passwords universally, and to change them at regular intervals. They can learn how backups are generated and how to keep an eye open for anything out of the ordinary digitally.
Access and User Permissions
User permissions and access is a great way to tighten up security and easy to do. Access at the host level means a user has physical access to machines on the network with the ability to log into the server. Physical access, however, should be limited to only those with security clearance.
Many companies use secure socket shell (SSH) or similar protocol to access the server and maintain the system or website. RSA keys protected with passphrases can be used for extra protective measures.
Many companies whitelist the IPs of those allowed to access the server for maintenance. Logins from the user root should also be disabled as a root user has full administrative access. File permissions protect files and full access should never be given to anyone because you don’t want to take the time to fix incorrect file permissions. Such measures can prevent cyber thieves from doing a substantial amount of damage to your company.
Digital security can seem huge and impossible to navigate. The proactive business owner, however, using these tips can run websites without having to deal with major disruptions. And be a perpetual student. The cyber landscape is constantly changing and shifting and to keep your business secure, you need to be on top of the latest data at all times.