Here are 4 basic cybersecurity tips for small businesses.

  1. Use multi-factor authentication

    With mutli-factor authentication, small business employees are able to access emails, websites, applications and more only if they get through multiple electronic methods of authentication. For example, they may not be able to access their email account until they enter their password for email, and then enter a code that was sent to their phone.
    “Everybody should look to use multi-factor authentication as much as possible, so that entering the private password is only one step to logging in,” said Randy Ford, Manager of Business Product Development and Management for Kinetic by Windstream. “While a hacker may be able to guess that password, they likely won’t be able to interfere with the second step – whether it’s receiving a code on your phone or providing a fingerprint. It’s a painless solution that offers extra security.”

  2.  Encrypt your network with WPA2

    Network encryption is one of the easiest cybersecurity best practices for small businesses. It converts data and messages moving across a network into an unreadable format. “Encrypting a network is easy because most basic networks are set up with WPA2 encryption,” Ford said.
    WPA2, or WiFi Protected Access 2, specifically should be a default on every WiFi device you set up for your small business. While there are ways to secure your business with additional encryption methods – like encrypting email services and user browser extensions – WPA2 is a simple default.
    The outdated version of WiFi security protocol is called WEP, or Wired Equivalent Privacy. Don’t ever use it at home or for your small business. WPA2 makes sure that data moving across your wireless network is encrypted and can only be accessed by people who have logged into your network with the WPA2 password.

  3. Install a network firewall

    A firewall is a device designed to stand between a private network and the public internet, filtering network traffic according to an organization’s security policies. Including a firewall in your cybersecurity efforts can boost network protection by up to 80%.
    One option is Managed Network Security offered by Kinetic Business by Windstream. “It’s a physical device firewall – and an enterprise-class network firewall – that we can put in location,” Ford said. It’s built off of one of the leading cybersecurity firewall vendors that’s used by banks, healthcare groups and the largest corporations in the world.”
    Managed Network Security provides detection and prevention, expert deployment and management, and one integrated solution that covers all locations.

  4. Set up content filtering

    A small business that installs internet filter software can restrict the content an internet user can access on their network. Managed Network Security incorporates content filtering as well. And this isn’t just about preventing people from shopping online during work hours.
    “If you’re a small business owner and someone ends up on your network, you’re then a point from where they can relay illegal activity,” Ford said. “So you’ve become a tool for what nefarious actors need. This is a reason you want to be protected on the network. You keep a cleaner place of business and limit potential risks.”
    So how much should a small business spend on cybersecurity? Not much, when a product like this is scalable. Managed Network Security can be priced as low as $40 a month, depending on the business. “We have it scaled down for the basic firewall that’s going to protect the majority of what a small business needs,” Ford said.

  5.  Sharpen that password.

    With so much of our lives and work now taking place online, a weak password could put your whole operation at risk. That’s why we recommend businesses sharpen their passwords on a regular basis. Not only will this help to keep your data safe, but it will also give you a peace of mind knowing that your business is as secure as possible.
    There are a few key things to keep in mind when choosing a strong password. First, make sure it is long enough – the longer the better. Second, use a mix of upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols. And third, avoid using easily guessed words or phrases like “password” or your company name.
    Stop using your wedding anniversary or your dog’s name to log on – complex passwords are a pain to memorize, but the overly simple ones just invite intruders.

Small business cybersecurity statistics to know

If your small business gets broken into through your network, you could have a lot of problems, whether client or employee data is compromised, business operations are interrupted or IT infrastructure is damaged. All can lead to loss of revenue. A few concerning small business cybersecurity statistics:

  • Research shows 83% of small businesses aren’t financially equipped to recover from cyber attacks.
  • Studies indicate that 43% of small business owners don’t have a cybersecurity defense plan.
  • A data breach could cost small businesses with less than 500 employees up to $2.98 million.

While basic cybersecurity best practices for small businesses are critical, you don’t have to overcomplicate it. “With a small business, you should be choosing the same kinds of protections you should be choosing with your own family,” Ford said. “It’s kind of a common-sense model. Cybersecurity is insurance. You’re protecting yourself – and your business.”