Small Business Growth and Guardianship in 2020: Staying safe from hackers

It’s here, 2020, the start of not just a new year, but a new decade as well. Happily for small businesses, 2020 is off to a good start with small-business owner optimism strong and plenty of reasons to support that optimism. Opening and operating a small business is more affordable than ever, and in the last ten years we have seen progress, innovation and transformation across a range of industries from energy and media to health, manufacturing, entertainment, technology, and more. Under the technology sector, the antivirus industry alone has experienced its own mammoth growth and transformation, particularly in the area of business protection where we’ve seen great success in defending businesses against hackers and malware. Today, most AV software achieve between a 99.9%-100% online protection rate. Another reason for businesses to be optimistic!

Undoubtedly, the transformation of antivirus technology was compelled by the avalanche of cyber attacks threatening businesses and individuals alike. But antivirus providers have been fighting back and providing the type of cyber defense that consumers and businesses need to survive these threats. Imagine a baseball pitching machine pitching different types of threats out onto the cyber-threat field with antivirus software batting them back each time they appeared. Maybe a bit of a stretch of the imagination, but you get the point – that’s basically what the best antivirus software for small businesses do. They keep hackers away from your business’ data and malware off your systems. Go antivirus!

Of course, businesses need to do their part too by prioritizing their business protection. Small businesses especially need to implement defensive measures to safeguard their businesses as they are not only a favorite target of hackers (58% of cyber attacks are aimed at small businesses), but they also rarely have the resources needed to recover from a cyber attack (60% of small businesses that were attacked by hackers had to shut down). No need to panic, though; there are potent, effective and reliable security measures that businesses can implement to protect their data, their systems, and let’s face it, the survival of their business. The best part is that once these measures are implemented, business owners and managers are then free to focus on business matters near and dear to their heart… like business growth, perhaps?

So what are these measures?

Educate/train employees – It’s already well-established that cyber awareness amongst employees is a significant aspect of a business’ cybersecurity, and conversely, a lack of awareness can put a business at risk. Educating and training employees includes showing them how to identify the types of cyber threats they’re most likely to face and what procedures to follow when they suspect an attack has occurred.

Install antivirus software – Possibly the most critical measure for defending a business against hackers and cyber attacks, however, is installing antivirus software (AV). Antivirus software is the sentry at the gate to your computer and data, preventing malicious software from downloading onto your systems and keeping hackers at bay. With the right AV, your business’ privacy and sensitive business information will be protected, so that you are able to conduct your business in a way that facilitates its growth without fear of being hacked. This makes the decision to find and install business antivirus software not just a wise business decision to make, but an easy one too.

Protect your endpoints – Endpoints are remote computing devices such as desktops, laptops, tablets, servers, and workstations, that connect to a network and communicate back and forth across that network. They can also represent substantial vulnerabilities that cybercriminals try to exploit in order to gain access to your computers and data. To keep your business safe, you must defend it with AV software that offers powerful endpoint protection.

Use HTTPS Protocol instead of HTTP – HTTPS stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure Socket Layer, but more important than what it stands for is what it provides, which is greater security than HTTP protocol. Secure websites display a little padlock symbol in the browser, indicating that they use HTTPS protocol and that any data sent to or received from that website is encrypted and hence secure. Business pro tip: Using HTTPS protocol not only makes your business more secure, it can also help your Google ranking because Google factors in HTTPS protocol in its search algorithm.

Keep your software up-to-date – Many of the most harmful cyber attacks against small businesses take advantage of software vulnerabilities or security holes. Software updates provide patches to these security holes so that hackers can’t exploit them. In addition, one of the technologies that modern antivirus software use requires an extensive database of virus signatures. This database gets updated when new viruses are discovered. If your antivirus software isn’t regularly or automatically updated, it will not be using the most current database.

Enforce safe password best practices – Many businesses are too lax in the area of password usage and as a result, hackers often use brute force techniques to guess passwords that they can then use to access computers. Simple passwords, commonly used passwords, passwords that are too short, and multiple-use passwords are all examples of poor password practices that enable cyber intruders to gain unauthorized access to systems and devices. Following password best practices such as using passphrases instead of just passwords, not sharing passwords and not reusing passwords for different accounts, are critical to business security.

Don’t lose your business mojo
Don’t let some cyber criminal steal your business mojo and all you’ve worked for to build your company. As a small business owner, you should be able to devote all the business talent, expertise, experience, and time at your disposal to improving and growing your business; you should not have to use these valuable resources towards fending of hackers and malware. That job belongs to good cyber hygiene and a powerful endpoint security solution.