Cyber Security Essentials for Any Small Business

The digital age has been full of surprises, and the internet has revolutionized many aspects of modern life and work. Businesses have perhaps the greatest capacity to benefit from the tech innovations that have come out in recent years, but there is a major downside to consider. While modern technology is so advantageous for modern commerce that businesses can’t afford to do without, implementing it into your company’s framework also presents the problem of cyber attacks. Businesses are disproportionately targeted by hackers because of their collection of valuable data, and that means that any modern company will have to account for that threat. Here’s what you need to know.

App Security

Just about every business that offers services to consumers will have a corresponding app that gives customers greater access to that company’s products and services. This ultimately results in more sales simply because it enables customers to access the business in question at virtually any time by putting it in their pocket. However, this presents one of many cyber security problems that your company will need to address. These apps have become ubiquitous not only because they can drastically increase engagement among consumers, but also because they are affordably developed thanks to APIs. Application Programming Interfaces are essentially a kind of development shortcut that can expedite the process of developing your app and, simultaneously, save your company a lot of money.

However, these APIs are publicly available, and that means that any hacker can potentially obtain the source code for your app and steal the data of its users or your company itself. The private information of customers is often more of a target to hackers than the data of the companies they hack, simply because any successful business will provide an immense number of potential targets, and the information that will be required of them will often be enough for hackers to steal their identities. Investing in web API security is a necessary part of implementing an app into your business model as a direct result of this perpetual threat to consumer safety.

Encryption and Decryption

Encryption forms the bedrock of online security, but you might be surprised to find out that his vital security feature is actually missing from the internet at large. In fact, it comes down to the individual proprietor of a given website to pay for the addition of an encryption protocol such as SSL in order to protect users. Encryption is the process by which a given piece of information is scrambled so that it is unrecognizable to parties who aren’t the intended recipient, and it dates back to well before the internet and historically has more to do with espionage. Thanks to the ubiquity of the internet, hackers can potentially intercept a constant stream of data illegally without the added protection of encryption.

The need for encryption manifests in a few key ways. For starters, an unsecure website is an easy target for data theft from both your company and your customer base. However, your website itself can be in danger of becoming infected with malware that can infect the computers of the consumers that access it and, potentially, your broader network. Lastly, there has been a push in recent years, particularly from Google, to deprioritize unsecure websites in search results. Likewise, Google Chrome goes out of its way to warn users when they visit unsecure websites in order to prevent them from coming to harm. This can negatively impact your business even if no cyber attacks actually take place, because it simply steers consumers away from your site, just in case. From the perspectives of both cyber security and your visibility, encryption and decryption are necessary for your business’s website.

Network Security

One of the most essential online tools for any business is its network, and that network needs protections of its own. Your network will benefit tremendously from a combination of security tools and techniques, but the amount of factors that need to be taken care of comprehensive network security can be complex enough to warrant bringing in a cyber security consultant.

First and foremost, you’ll need to invest in network monitoring software and services, because this is the single best way to see a cyber attack coming in advance. Cyber attacks typically begin with a casing process or some other preemptive activity, and having the tools and the ability to observe this activity and establish patterns can be a crucial preventative measure. By picking up on strange behavior coming from a specific IP address, for example, you can track any further activity on the part of that user in order to establish a potential threat. This can allow you to act in advance against potential threats and, in the event of a cyber attack in earnest, have a good idea of where the attack originated.

Intrusion detection and prevention software are essential, because they can serve as your first line of defense when and if a cyber attack occurs within your network. As their respective names imply, these softwares specialize in warning you of an attack in progress and then trying to stop the attack. This makes for a sort of security system for your network, not unlike the way that antimalware software works in order to protect your devices from viruses.

Last, but not least, your network will need to be protected from human error. Simple mistakes account for the inciting incident of the vast majority of cyber security breaches, because these mistakes give hackers a weakness that they can exploit. Therefore, reducing the frequency and/or consequences of these mistakes can improve the safety of your network dramatically. A good way to tackle this problem is by implementing two factor authentication. Password security flaws in particular are often exploited by hackers looking to infiltrate business networks, and two factor authentication is almost 100% effective at preventing infiltration in the event of a compromised password.

Protecting your business and your customers from hackers is no easy feat, but it needs to be a priority if you want your business to survive. These tips can help you get there.


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