Cyber attacks can have devastating repercussions for small businesses – not only financially but also by damaging reputations and endangering future expansion plans.

As with home security systems, installing cyber defenses in your workplace is key to protecting both yourself and employees from hackers, data breaches, and other forms of malicious activities. Here are five affordable cybersecurity best practices you should keep in mind.

1. Install a Firewall

Most small businesses recognize viruses and malware as threats to their computer systems, yet their response usually consists of installing antivirus software which recognizes and quarantines infections. A firewall would provide better defense by actively blocking cyberattacks rather than responding after they occur.

Firewall solutions also record network activity and detect patterns that indicate potential cyberattacks, providing important data that can alert employees or the business owner when threats are identified.

Employing a firewall can protect your data, prevent hackers from making fraudulent credit card charges against your customers and protect against port scans that lead to entry points for hackers into your system. A firewall also keeps hackers out of your product listings, customer data or credit card numbers – saving both time and money!

2. Install Antivirus Software

Antivirus software may seem unnecessary for small business owners; after all, hackers tend to target larger organizations. So why invest in protection for something smaller like their business?

Cybercriminals do not care about the size or location of your company – all they care about is stealing away your sensitive data.

Installing the latest antivirus software protects your devices against various forms of cyberattack, such as ransomware, malware and phishing attacks. Antivirus tools also play an essential role in preventing internal data breaches which account for 30% of breaches overall.

As it’s key to ensure all devices have the latest version of antivirus programs installed, having access to a central management console allows for updates and ensures all devices meet this criteria. These systems come in both free and paid solutions; some even support Bring Your Own Device practices.

3. Install a Backup Solution

Cyberattacks are on the rise and it seems like every day another major company apologizes for data breach or is admitted they were compromised. While it might seem that only large corporations should worry about cybersecurity, small businesses also are susceptible to attack.

Small businesses need backup solutions as a vital safeguard to recover files lost due to cyber threats or corrupted by internal processes. Prioritize backup solutions as an integral component of their data protection strategies – make them part of daily practice to safeguard transaction records, customer information and passwords for added protection.

Businesses should regularly back up their data across multiple locations, such as offline hard drives, the cloud and other external storage devices. Furthermore, it would be prudent to encrypt files to protect against hackers and other potential risks.

4. Implement Password Policies

Small businesses without their own IT staff often find it challenging to implement effective cyber security protocols and protect their business data against attacks.

Small to midsized businesses should ensure they create and document a security policy for themselves and all their employees, with this policy covering everything from password protection and data backups, as well as training employees on how to avoid breaches.

A comprehensive password policy requires employees to use complex passwords that combine characters, special characters, upper case letters and lower case letters in a password that they have chosen themselves. Two-factor authentication should also be mandatory to prevent unapproved access after entering their valid passwords; regular updates of this policy should take place to address emerging threats before being distributed to all employees.

5. Train Your Employees

Everyday it seems as if another company is acknowledging a data breach or being hit with cyberattacks, often small ones that employees’ devices and computers give access to networks that hackers use for attack. Hackers now target not just large enterprises but also smaller firms by exploiting access points provided through employees and accessing their networks through employee devices and computers.

Small business owners sometimes underestimate cybersecurity. They assume their business is too small for hackers to target, or that they can afford not having a robust defense system in place. However, following some affordable best practices can help safeguard both systems and customer data.

Train your employees on cybersecurity best practices, including password policies and backing up files offsite or to an external hard drive. Encourage them to implement multi-factor authentication (MFA) for email accounts as well as keeping computers secure at all times.

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