Cyber threats are ever-present in this digital age, and one wrong move could compromise all your data. In 2019, 15% of small businesses reported cyber incidents. This year that statistic has increased with 28% of all data breaches involving small businesses. This is due to the widespread digital migration brought about by strict lockdown guidelines. The sheer amount of businesses transitioning to online platforms makes it a hotspot for cybercriminal activity. Here’s how you can protect yourself:

1. Protect your hardware and software

Your first order of business is securing the source of your data. Protect your hardware with strong passwords, and don’t write them down anywhere that is easily accessible. If your work computer is in the office, consider putting up surveillance cameras or an alarm system in the room. You could also opt to use a biometric scan to unlock your devices.

As for your software, always keep your system up to date. This makes it safe from vulnerabilities that cybercriminals could exploit. Also, put up a strong firewall and invest in security software. If hackers can't get into your devices, that ensures the safety of your data.

2. Back up and encrypt your data

Next, make sure to back up your data on a separate device or cloud application. This is particularly crucial against ransomware attacks, which involves a hacker encrypting all your data, making it inaccessible to you, then demanding a fee for its return. But if you routinely back up your data, you’ll still be able to continue with your operations.

On the flip side, you could encrypt your data. Encrypting your database makes it inaccessible if it ends up with someone outside of your business. Just make sure to protect your encryption keys. Change them regularly and control who has access to them.

3. Educate the workforce

The next step is to manage your human resources. There is a large margin for error when it comes to dealing with cyber threats, so cyber-security knowledge cannot end with your tech team. All employees must know the basics of data protection, especially since human error is often regarded as the weakest link in cyber-security. To minimize the risks, educate the entire workforce, so that they’re aware of what’s at stake and how to deal with potential cyber attacks. Doing so gives you peace of mind, knowing that your employees are equipped with the knowledge to protect your data.

4. Exhaust all legal means of protection

This last tip involves deciding your plan of action in case of a cyber attack. For the planning phase, involve your stakeholders in the conversation. You should also consider hiring a cyber-security professional, as they have the skill set required to effectively guard against cyber attacks. It’s also worth investing in cyber liability insurance, as these can effectively mitigate your losses. If, after everything, you still find preparations to be lacking, it might be a good idea to rethink your overall business structure. While large businesses are often corporations, smaller businesses can opt to file as an LLC. An LLC separates personal and business assets, which means that an owner’s personal finances and property will be protected from the legal fallout of an unexpected cyber attack. This will not be the case if you are operating as a sole proprietor or partnership, and this difference can draw the line between post-attack recovery and shutting down. Protection measures like these are crucial in keeping your business afloat against cybercriminals, so think about them carefully.

These are simple, but powerful measures you can take to guard your data. Waste no time in implementing them, because cyber threats are present every second. The sooner these protection measures are in order, the better. For more articles on the latest technological trends and innovations, check out the rest of our content!

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