Every time you use the internet, online service providers collect some data about you and your business. Internet privacy isn’t just a concern of large corporations. According to statistics, up to 43% of cyber-attacks target small businesses. Furthermore, only 14% of these vulnerable organizations have effective mitigation measures in place. As digital data grows, cybersecurity should become your highest priority.
Why Do Cyber Attackers Target Small Businesses?
Large corporations are more likely to dedicate significant resources to advanced cybersecurity measures. They also have data backup in case some of their servers get compromised. As a small business, you don't have this luxury. Hackers are more likely to target you because there's a higher likelihood that you'll pay a ransom.
Modern businesses store a lot of valuable data, including financial, medical, and personal details. They use this information for identity fraud and other malicious activities. Bad actors are likely to attack smaller businesses as a gateway to larger organizations. For example, if you're a subcontractor or supplier, your network may unwittingly provide access to your business partner.
Hackers also prefer smaller organizations because they know they can get away with this crime. After a breach, small business owners are less likely to engage the authorities in tracking the perpetrators.
How to Guard Your Online Privacy
The following tips will help you prevent potentially catastrophic data breaches:
- Secure your network and systems
One of the best cybersecurity measures is to have the latest version of software and hardware. That means having the most recent patches and compatibility with the most secure solutions in the market. Most hackers design malware to take advantage of weaknesses in older versions.
It's also advisable to set up different levels of access for various users depending on data sensitivity. Strong credentials are mandatory because hackers have tools to try multiple password combinations. To avoid a breach, implement two-factor authentication for both online accounts and data transfers.
- Invest in a firewall
Your business is still susceptible to attacks even if it doesn't handle sensitive data. Some hackers infiltrate your network to use it for future large-scale attacks. A firewall is an essential security layer that offers a vital barrier between your business network and the rest of cyberspace.
These devices and applications monitor outgoing and incoming traffic to identify and block malicious files. They do so by filtering data packets based on predetermined rules. You can also flag suspicious IP addresses.
- Minimize online tracking
Modern browsers allow you to opt-out of unnecessary tracking. If a website insists on it, you can browse in incognito mode. Avoid using computers holding sensitive information to visit suspicious websites.
Your employees should form a habit of clearing their browser history regularly. That's because hackers may use incriminating details to blackmail them into handing over sensitive company files. By encrypting the data you share over public networks, a VPN protects similarly to firewalls.
- Train employees on cybersecurity best practices
Even as employees market your services online, they should desist from sharing too much information. Some hackers specialize in social engineering tactics. They employ phishing, tailgating, pretexting, baiting, and other malicious techniques to gain unauthorized access to your servers.
That's why every business should prioritize cybersecurity training for employees, including non-IT staff. These best practices include biometric access, hierarchical cybersecurity policies, prioritizing risk-based approaches, and investing in data backup solutions.
It's also advisable to train them on emerging technologies such as IoT and identifying phishing attempts. Other precautions are monitoring third-party access and spreading company-wide awareness on the importance of internet privacy. This program should include consultations with qualified lawyers on the legal implications of data breaches.
- HTTPS and SSL
An HTTPS sign on the browser bar means the website has an SSL certificate. This extra layer increases security by encrypting the connection between your site and its users. This technology ensures such interactions remain private, even as information flows back and forth on the World Wide Web.
Google alerts users about websites without SSL certification. It’s therefore in your best interests to ensure your online properties have this security layer. In addition to protecting your data, it also gives your audience the confidence to engage with your business online.
This level of encryption is especially vital if your website asks for login details. Examples include e-commerce sites, online banking, forums, and education portals. When your customers enter sensitive information in the relevant online forms, no bad actors will be snooping.
The Final Thoughts
Online privacy affects everyone, from individual visitors to large corporations. Internet privacy should be a central aspect of your business strategy because all virtual entities are at risk. A data breach could be costlier and more devastating than the preventive measures outlined in this article. As virtual interactions increase, your investment in advanced cybersecurity measures will result in long-term business growth.