Downsizing headcount keeps hitting the headlines, and the internet makes it easier to telecommute. This issue is driving more and more entrepreneurial-minded folks to take advantage of many benefits that come with running their business from their homes.
However, there are technological challenges in running a home-based business. It is hard to find a home-based business that does not make use of technology and the internet. Having an online presence is necessary for success these days.
The mindset that there is not much for cybercriminals to steal from you is prevalent in home-based entrepreneurs. This issue, however, is entirely incorrect and does not sit well with best practices in cybersecurity that should be adopted in today’s world.
Small home-based businesses are targets of attack more often than large companies. Cyber threats are used to gain access to personal data or for identity theft. While large companies usually have more data, home-based businesses typically have less secured networks, which makes it easier for cybercriminals to breach. Cybercriminals can breach tons of home-based businesses by making use of automated attacks, which makes size lesser of an issue when compared to network security.
Lack of expertise, time, and budget for adequate security are the top reasons for the high rate of cyber-attacks on home-based businesses. Other main reasons for this include not having access to IT security specialists, not knowing the risks, not keeping up to date with security programs, insufficient employee training, and not securing endpoints.
How can you prevent your home-based business from being a victim of cyber-attacks?
Here are seven security strategies that you can adopt for this.
1. Make use of firewall(s)
A firewall is the first line of defense to save your home-based business from cyber threats. An organization such as FCC (Federal Communications Commission) recommends that all small and medium-sized businesses (including home-based businesses) should set up a firewall to act as a barrier between the cybercriminals and your precious data. It is advised that you also install internal firewalls in addition to the usual external firewall. If you have employees who work from home, then you should make it mandatory for them to install a firewall to protect their home network too.
2. Make regular backups
While it is essential to keep yourself safe from cyber threats, you can still be breached irrespective of how many precautions you take. Back up your electronic spreadsheets, word processing documents, financial records, human resource records, and accounts payable/receivable files.
Not only that but also keep backups of data that you store in the cloud. Make sure that your backups are stored in separate locations in case of flood or fire.
To make sure that you have access to the latest backup in case you need it, inspect your reserves regularly to make sure that the backup processes are working correctly.
3. Make use of anti-malware software
Do not assume that you and your employees will always know when not to open phishing emails. The number of attacks perpetrated using phishing emails has been on the rise.
Given that phishing attacks encompass the installation of malware on your computer when you click on the link, you must have anti-malware software deployed on the network and all devices.
4. Make use of multi-factor identification
Regardless of how well prepared you are, you or one of your employees likely ends up making a security blunder that puts your data at risk. It is easy to make use of multi-factor identification features on most email and network products. It will give you an additional protection layer.
For example, cell phone numbers of employees can be used to get the second form of authentication PIN. It is highly unlikely that the thief will know both the password and the PIN.
5. Make use of encrypted messaging
A lot of home-based businesses count on messaging to communicate with freelancers and employees to discuss their business plans. It would be best if you were extremely careful while exchanging sensitive information online. Make use of messaging apps that support encryption features to keep your conversations private. Also, enable the encryption features in your email clients.
Make use of virtual private networks if your team works out of coffee shops, libraries, or some other public places. This issue will ensure that hackers cannot intercept the information being passed over public Wi-Fi networks.
6. Make use of SSL certificate
Web-security is a critical issue, and your home-based business cannot undervalue this at any cost. The volume of hacking attempts is increasing at an alarming rate. Small home-based businesses become an easy target for cybercriminals. This happens because they are not always serious about web security; they ignore extensive security implementations. It thus becomes an easy game of cherry-picking for hackers to attack these sites, which have close to zero protection.
If you install an SSL certificate on your website, your site will have visual indicators, such as HTTPS and a green padlock. SSL mainly secures passing information between the server and the browser. The conversion rates on your website will be higher when the visitors can see these indicators. This issue will stimulate your reputation and revenues. News of your site being hacked will leave a significant dent on your reputation. Save yourself from the pain of going through the embarrassment and financial loss.
7. Make use of safe password practices
You may find changing passwords to be a pain in the neck. However, note that most data breaches happen because of weak, stolen or lost passwords. You need to password protect all devices that access your home-based business network.
Enforce strong passwords that make use of upper- and lower-case letters, symbols, and numbers. Also, make it mandatory to change the password every 60-90 days.
Staying secure is a moving target. Cybercriminals keep getting more sophisticated by the day. It would be best if you made security your top priority. And It would be better if you stayed on top of the latest trends for cyber-attacks and the newest technology for prevention.
The success of your home-based business depends on it.