cyber attack at desk

Inside Job: Managing IT Security Threats for Small Businesses

When confronting cybersecurity threats, your first thought as a small business owner might be protecting yourself against outside hackers.

But in fact, 60% of cyber threats come from inside the company. 

How can you protect your growing business against security threats? Training your team on cyber safety procedures is a great first step.

Keep reading to learn more about today’s top IT threats and how to safeguard your business.

The IT Landscape in Today’s Small Businesses

Amidst the recent news about hackers getting into major corporations, it’s easy to believe that the main IT threats come from outside.

However, it might surprise you that the biggest security threats to businesses come from their personnel. 

As a small business owner, it’s important to ensure that your employees understand cybersecurity. With so much of business management relying on data clouds and devices, today’s IT landscape needs more security than ever before. 

Think you don’t need to worry about security threats for your small business? Every business is at risk if it uses online platforms and computers to handle data.

Documents like pay stubs and W-4 forms that contain sensitive information need to be stored securely. You also need security every time you swipe a credit card or get a customer’s mailing address for ads. 

If you have multiple employees who regularly conduct business on computers, you need to ensure that each computer has the right security protection. It’s also important that you train each employee on safe practices. 

Top Security Threats and How to Prevent Them

Hackers understand human behavior and they use that knowledge to create clever ploys to gain access to data.

What are some of these tactics?

Keep reading to learn more about today’s top computer security threats and how to train your staff to avoid them. 

1. Weak Passwords

A weak password is the easiest place to start when looking for threats in your IT security.

For hackers, guessing a password is always the first go-to tactic when trying to break into software. 

Most platforms and development software will come with a default password when you first set things up. It’s important to avoid using default passwords and instead use something complex. 

Avoid using a series of numbers like “123” or standard words like “password.” Make sure each of your employees is resetting their passwords too. 

Don’t forget to store your passwords somewhere safe. Don’t compile a list on a place that’s easily accessible–like your email–but instead consider using a platform designed specifically for keeping passwords secure. Finally, it’s always a good idea to enable multi-step authorizations. 

2. Unauthorized Applications

The market for computer software amounted to over 400 billion U.S. dollars in 2018.

That number continues to grow, and with it comes advanced ways for hackers to gain access to personal and corporate devices. 

One tactic hackers follow is to create a downloadable application that appears useful but hides malware designed to mine information from your computer. Often this is a danger that comes with downloading third-party applications.

This is often an easy mistake made by employees because most applications appear safe to use. However, once a bad app is downloaded and granted access, the data stored on your computer is fully exposed. 

To prevent this from happening, it’s a good idea for employers to avoid giving out administrative authorization. This ensures that no individual can download an app unless it’s approved by you or another admin. 

3. Phishing

Phishing is a cybercrime that targets individuals through emails, social media messages, or texts. 

Hackers send bad links through these platforms to convince individuals to open it and enter information. This is one of the more common tricks that individuals fall for because the links appear legitimate and safe. 

Once the link is clicked, it will often request information like login passwords or banking information. An important thing to remember is that phishing can be avoided if employees are extremely careful about the links they click on.

Staff should always make sure it is from a viable source and avoid entering sensitive information. If they’re not sure it’s legitimate, pick up the phone and call the sender to verify. 

As a business owner, your devices will be a special target for hackers. This is because targeting businesses often means more money and more data. 

4. Lack of Security Controls

Most businesses place a focus on internal controls that concern handling financials or personnel files.

However, IT security controls aren’t always placed at an equal level of importance. 

Sometimes it can complicate daily tasks when each employee has to go to an admin to type in their password for any changes in computer settings or applications. Because of this, some business owners allow each staff their own admin abilities. 

Why is this a bad idea for IT security? Because it enables each staff member to download any number of potentially dangerous applications.

If this happens, any sensitive data stored on the computer is at risk of exposure. To avoid this problem and decrease cyber threats in the workplace, you can install a strong firewall that will block anything unwanted. 

5. Remote Security

The remote security of each computer is just as important as the overall security of the business network.

Part of working as a business team includes sharing files and passwords to conduct daily business tasks. This can often become a loophole in cybersecurity because an individual may not take appropriate steps to ensure safely transferring a sensitive document. 

Additionally, another security loophole is when a staff member allows family or friends to use their device for personal reasons. Although it may seem harmless, this exposes the computer to additional attacks. For example, your niece might log into a social media account and click on a phishing link. 

To prevent this, ensure that each staff member’s device is only being used for professional reasons. It’s also important to avoid connecting to public wifi when conducting business. 

6. Avoiding Updates

Even if you take the time to install protective software, failing to allow updates can result in a dangerously exposed device.

When you see that notification telling you to install updates and restart your computer, it’s important to do so right away. 

Updates and software “patches” are usually sent out for a specific reason. They are often rolled out to remove a vulnerability from an application. If you or an employee fails to install an update that is then made public, you are turning your computer into an easy target for hackers. 

Manage IT Security From Within

Managing your business’s IT security starts from within your very own team.

In today’s technology-driven world, hackers are getting smarter and cyber vulnerabilities are becoming more common. 

You can easily begin the process of preparing your business against security threats by training your team on basic cybersecurity. Teach each staff member about the most common security threats and how to safeguard their computers against them.

If your team knows how to identify a phishing attempt or avoid questionable applications, you’re already well on your way to better security. Beyond team training, it’s also a good idea to have devices regularly checked for proper network security protection. Make sure antivirus software is installed and all applications are updated. 

Finally, you can implement a strong cybersecurity policy as part of your employee handbook. Ensure each employee has access to cybersecurity procedures. For staff members who handle the company’s social media, ensure they apply maximum privacy settings.

Get Help From IT Professionals to Safeguard Your Growing Business

When you’ve taken all the steps to strengthen your cybersecurity from within, the next step is to get expert help from IT professionals.

If you don’t have the budget to hire your own IT Administrator, you can reach out to an outsourced IT team

Why get expert help? As your business grows, so does your risk of cyberattacks. Even if you understand the basics of cybersecurity, you’ll want the extra protection that a trained IT professional can provide. 

But remember, your cybersecurity is only strong as long as each employee is educated about security threats. Boost your cyber safety from within to ensure your IT safeguards remain secure. 

Keep Your Small Business Safe

Human error is often the number one reason a business gets hacked.

Even for small businesses, it’s important to take the appropriate steps to protect your company against security threats. 

Think your business needs an IT upgrade? Contact our IT team today to ensure your business is protected. 

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