Cybersecurity for Small Businesses

Oct 24, 2016


The following is an excerpt from the Federal Communication Commission’s “Ten Cybersecurity Tips for Small Businesses” publication.
Click here to view the entire publication.

Broadband and information technology are powerful tools for small businesses to reach new markets and increase sales and productivity. However, cybersecurity threats are real and businesses must implement the best tools and tactics to protect themselves, their customers, and their data.

Train employees in security practices.

Establish basic security practices and employees for employees, such as requiring strong passwords and establish appropriate Internet use guidelines that detail penalties for violating company cybersecurity policies.

Protect information, computers, and networks from cyber attacks.

Keep clean machines: having the latest security software, web browser, and operating system are the best defenses against viruses, malware, and other online threats. Set antivirus software to run a scan after each update. Install other key software updates as soon as they are available.

Provide firewall security for your Internet connection.

A firewall is a set of related programs that prevent outsiders from accessing data on a private network. Make sure the operating system’s firewall is enabled or install free firewall software available online. If employees work from home, ensure that their home system(s) are protected by a firewall.

Create a mobile device action plan.

Mobile devices can create significant security and management challenges, especially if they hold confidential information or can access the corporate network. Require users to password protect their devices, encrypt their data, and install security apps to prevent criminals from stealing information while the phone is on public networks. Be sure to set reporting procedures for lost or stolen equipment.

Make backup copies of important business data and information.

Regularly backup the data on all computers. Backup data automatically if possible, or at least weekly and store the copies either offsite or in the cloud.

Control physical access to your computers and create user accounts for each employee.

Laptops can be particularly easy targets for theft or can be lost, so lock them up when unattended. Make sure a separate user account is created for each employee and require strong passwords.

Secure your Wi-Fi networks. 

If you have a Wi-Fi network for your workplace, make sure it is secure, encrypted, and hidden. To hide your Wi-Fi network, set up your wireless access point or router so it does not broadcast the network name, known as the Service Set Identifier (SSID). Password-protect access to the router.

Employ best practices on payment cards. 

Work with banks or processors to ensure the most trusted and validated tools and anti-fraud services are being used. Isolate payment systems from other, less secure programs and don’t use the same computer to process payments and surf the Internet.

Limit employee access to data and information, and limit authority to install  software.

Do not provide any one employee with access to all data systems.

Passwords and authentication. 

Require employees to use unique passwords and change passwords every three months. Consider implementing multi-factor authentication that requires additional information beyond a password to gain entry. Check with your vendors that handle sensitive data, especially financial institutions, to see if they offer multi-factor authentication for your account.


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