Improving small business security

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Just because your business is small, that doesn’t mean it’s not a target. While many think that cybercriminals focus their attention on big firms, the reality is that today’s automated scanning techniques, malware and botnets don’t care about the size of your company; they’re too busy searching for vulnerabilities to exploit. A 2019 survey by the UK’s federation of small businesses found that small businesses were collectively subject to almost 10,000 cyber-attacks a day, with one in five affected in the last two years. A 2018 study by the insurance firm, Hiscox, found that a cybersecurity breach could cost the average small business £25,700 in direct costs alone.

A recent study by IDG for Dell shows that businesses aren’t ignorant of these risks. When asked to name the biggest technology challenge they faced in the year ahead, 36% said security and compliance, while 28% said managing their IT in-house. For many small businesses, simply managing and troubleshooting their IT systems is hard work enough. Doing so while protecting against growing Internet threats only makes it harder.

Yet there are things small businesses can do to improve their security and lock down their network without large investments or specialist skills. What’s more, these same steps can help firms comply with government and industry regulations, improve customer confidence and strengthen security for home and remote workers. And, should a breach occur, they can reduce the impact.

Protect critical business assets

Hardware and software make up your frontline defences, starting with your wireless network. Make sure that any security features on any routers in the business are enabled, and that any default admin accounts and passwords have been switched for your own admin accounts. Anti-virus and firewall software is an absolute must for all Windows and MacOS laptops and PCs – and you need to ensure that it’s kept up to date. This becomes particularly key for those workers now working almost exclusively from home.

This doesn’t need to be time-consuming. Dell can supply small business customers with McAfee Small Business Security, which covers five PCs and unlimited mobile devices from one subscription, with remote management from one central location. What’s more, it’s easy to add additional licenses to cover you as your business grows. Meanwhile, VPNs can be used for remote access to the office network, giving you a secure connection for staff working from home or using public wi-fi networks.

Businesses should also make data protection a priority. Encrypt data at rest on both internal and external hard drives, and look to secure any devices containing business data – including smartphones – with encryption, tracking, remote lock and remote wipe features. These features are baked into iOS and Android these days and supported by freely downloadable apps.

This goes hand-in-hand with controlling access. When everyone in the business has access to only the data they need to do their job, a compromised account can do much less damage, so configure user accounts for shared folders, network resources and cloud services with this in mind. What’s more, you can further lock down access by ensuring that all accounts and devices are protected by strong passwords and two factor authentication, including hardware-based biometric security, such as fingerprint or facial recognition.

Monitoring for cybersecurity threats

With all that in place, you still need to monitor your systems for threats and for signs of dangerous activity. While automatic alerts will take you so far, someone within the business needs to have a solid grasp of all the data that needs protecting, where it’s stored and who should have access, so that they can check for anomalies.

Most of all, security means education. Everyone within the company needs to understand the security basics, why they’re important and how to use encryption and secure authentication. They also need to know how to spot a phishing email or a bogus support alert. If you can, formalise a policy on acceptable use of data and online resources and activities, so that everyone knows what they should and shouldn’t do. Communication and information can be some of the most effective security tools.

Finally, remember that you’re not alone. Dell Technologies Advisors are happy to provide advice, guidance and managed support to small business customers, and help you find the right security solutions for your needs.

If you are a small business, Dell Technologies Advisors are here to help. Dell understands the challenges of running a business and can offer advice on your tech solutions.

Visit dell.co.uk or speak with an advisor on 0800 085 4878