For small businesses, the online world has opened up many opportunities – from reaching global customers, using international suppliers, and cutting costs on administration. But as digital capabilities increase, so too does the threat of scams and security risks.

Your business holds a lot of sensitive information. And the sad truth is, cyber criminals would love nothing more that to get their hands on it. This can be anything from customer information and financial records, to business plans and intellectual property.

It goes without saying – protecting your business should be a priority. To help you stay safe online, here’s how you can do just that.

How to protect your small business from ransomware attacks

We’ve all heard of ransomware. But what is it and what does it actually do? Ransomware is a small program that gets installed on your computer – without your knowledge. It then encrypts your most important business data and locks you out of it. Once this happens, it can work its way through your entire network and encrypt data on all your computers. The hackers responsible can then ask for a ransom to be paid in Bitcoin currency.

There are two ways that ransomware can get into your network:

  1. Someone opens an attachment in a fake email that installs the ransomware on the computer
  2. It gets in through poorly protected networks and computers that haven’t been updated with the latest software

Put simply – if you’re under attack, it’s not good news. However, there are easy ways you can protect your business from an event like this even happening. Here are three simple steps to follow:

  • Ensure your computers have automatic updates switched on
  • Invest in quality email filtering software
  • Invest in an enterprise-grade firewall

There are plenty of hosted or managed firewall options available, where you only need to pay on a subscription basis. Ultimately, it’s a small price to pay for protection against something that can ruin your business (and livelihood).

How to protect your small business on social media

Social media hacks can happen to the biggest businesses – even McDonalds. This can lead to embarrassment, customer backlash, and worst of all, loss of revenue. So how do you protect your business? The good thing is, it’s as simple as following best practices. These include:

Creating complex passwords. We all have complex passwords for our bank accounts – so why not do the same for your business? For all your social media accounts, make sure your passwords use a mix of letters, numbers and symbols – and never duplicate passwords across accounts. From time to time, you should also change your passwords.

Taking advantage of security measures. Your brand is crucial to your business – so it’s worth doing everything you can to protect it. Social networks such as Facebook and Twitter offer in-built measures like two-factor authentication. You can also set up alerts if your platforms experience any unrecognised logins.

How to protect your passwords online

The more we use the Internet for business, the more passwords we create. To be honest, it can be easy to lose track of all of them. However, keeping all your accounts secure is crucial to the health and success of your business. Here are some simple tips to keep your passwords safe online:

  • Use a password manager: Software applications such as 1Password or LastPass can manage and remember all your various login details for you, as well as generate highly secure passwords.
  • Two-factor verification: As with your social media accounts, you can set this up on most online account, including Apple, Google and Microsoft. Make a list of all your online business accounts, and investigate the security measures of each.
  • Protect against resets: If a business account gets compromised, hackers can easily reset your password. Again, look into the security settings of all your accounts and check the boxes that require personal information to reset a password. Make sure your ‘secret questions’ are strong.

Protect today, save tomorrow

No matter how small your business is – cyberattacks are a real threat. So to keep your business safe online, simply follow the above methods.