Protect Your Business! The 7 Cybersecurity Tools You Need as an Entrepreneur.
Even non-techies have the power to protect their businesses from cyber threats. The important thing is to pay attention.
If you aren’t taking active steps to secure your business’s digital assets, pure and simple, you're putting yourself at risk. Approximately 43 percent of all cyberattacks, according to Symantec, focus on small businesses -- in part because they’re a big enough target to be valuable, but also small enough to be vulnerable.
As if that weren’t enough, according to the National Cyber Security Alliance, as many as 60 percent of small- to medium-sized businesses that have been hacked go out of business within six months of the attack.
Now, you could describe an intuitive correlation here: Businesses that don’t invest enough in their cybersecurity probably aren’t investing enough in other areas of their business.
But the statistic is still worrying, so if you want to protect your business, you need to make the investments and upgrades necessary to keep it secure.
The problem is that, to an inexperienced entrepreneur, or a business without a formal IT department, the cybersecurity world is confusing and intimidating. Fortunately, you don’t need to be a tech expert to make wise investment and protection decisions. In fact, there are a handful of tools that can keep you safe from the vast majority of potential attacks.
The most important security tools
These are some of the most important security tools you’ll need for your business:
Password tools. Your passwords are one of the biggest points of vulnerability in your business, with 90 percent of passwords, according to Deloitte, weak enough to be vulnerable to hacking. Choosing strong passwords, managing them effectively and changing them often are some of the best ways to prevent any cybercrime. The problem is that it’s tough to keep everything organized in a business. That’s why a security tool like 1Password can help ; it gives you a centralized, secure location to manage all your passwords, and update them to keep them safe.
A VPN. You should also employ a virtual private network (VPN), which can encrypt all your network traffic so you don’t have to worry about outside forces spying on your work. A single network vulnerability is all it takes for a cybercriminal to gain access to all your data, so invest in a tool like SaferVPN, which is ideal if you have multiple users on multiple devices.
Antivirus software. You should also invest in some antivirus software for your devices. Antivirus software isn’t a surefire bet to protect you from hackers, but it will keep you alert if your computer is infected with malware and will scan email attachments to ensure they aren’t scams. AVG Technologies offers free antivirus software for individual users and special packages for businesses. There are also McAfee and tother options on the market.
A firewall. Next, you’ll want to invest in a firewall, which will monitor incoming and outgoing traffic, filter out certain threats and even block some sites altogether. A strong firewall alone won’t protect you from all the threats on the internet, but it’s an added layer of insurance you shouldn’t be without.
Better hardware. Older computers, servers and other pieces of hardware may be less expensive, but they pose much bigger security risks. They tend to run older software and have security holes that have been known and exploited for years. Make sure you upgrade your hardware routinely, every few years.
Better software (for everything). You’ll also need to pay careful attention to what type of software and applications you use for tasks like data storage, communication and project management. Each individual platform has its own strengths and weaknesses, so choose vendors you trust, with a long history of protecting customers’ data.
Education. Finally, invest in educational tools you can use to train and update your employees. Most hacks are attributable to human error, so the more educated your employees are on the best practices for cybersecurity, the less vulnerable you’re going to be. Set aside time every month to go over new updates, and remind your employees about the importance of habits like regularly changing passwords and avoiding suspicious links.
Staying vigilantOver 14 million businesses were “hacked” in 2016, but your business doesn’t have to be next in line. As long as you make wise investments, routinely monitor and improve the habits of your employees and commit to staying abreast of the latest digital threats, you’ll minimize your vulnerabilities significantly. Even non-techies have the power to protect their businesses from cyber threats.
Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor
Anna Johansson is a freelance writer who specializes in social media and business development.