18 Data Security Tips For Small Businesses

IT Support LA
This entry was posted in IT Support on by .

When you think about cyber-crime, you may associate it with big business. But small businesses are just as vulnerable to cyber attacks. Protecting your data and your customers has never been more important. Since the pandemic, cyber-crimes have increased, and all businesses are at risk, including businesses that specialize in IT consulting in Los Angeles. Ensuring your data security should be a primary concern. A little planning can help you avoid becoming the victim of theft, fraud, or hacking. Here are 18 tips for IT support in LA.

1. Provide Employee Training

Your employees are one of your greatest weapons against cyber threats. Providing ongoing training is important to keep sensitive information safe and secure.

Employees should have training on basic security practices and policies. This includes ensuring they maintain strong passwords and follow appropriate Internet usage guidelines.

Make sure employees understand the importance of following security protocols and where to turn when they have a question or concern.

2. Back Up Everything

Backing up your data is critical. Never store important or sensitive data in one place or on a single device.

Always have an external drive for backup. You want to be prepared for the worst case scenario.

Critical data may include:

  • Financial files
  • Employee data
  • Business documents
  • Human resource files
  • Accounts receivable/payable data

Make sure your system backs up data automatically. There are various cloud storage options available. You may want to consider keeping hard copies of important records as well.

3. Make Encryption a Priority

For hackers to use your business data, they must be able to read it. You can counter this possibility by using encryption.

Using various algorithms and mathematical schemes, data is scrambled into an unreadable format. The only one who can read it is the one with the encryption key.

Be sure to install encryption on all your drives and devices. Encrypt emails containing sensitive information as well.

4. Maintain Firewall Security

A firewall prevents others from accessing your data using a private network. Make sure your Wi-Fi network is secure and hidden.

Don’t broadcast your network name or information. Your router should be password protected.

Using encryption and a firewall protects your data from prying eyes. These safeguards add an additional level of security to protect your sensitive business data.

5. Protect Your System From Viruses

Your business, large or small, is vulnerable to viruses, malware, and spyware. One way to mitigate these risks is with anti-virus and anti-spyware software.

The top brands are continually updating their products to protect against these cyber threats. Make sure you are running regular checks and updates on your anti-theft software.

6. Consider Mobile Device Security

Mobile devices are more of a security risk than you may realize. They present a significant security threat. This is especially true if they hold sensitive information or are connected to the corporate network.

All mobile devices should be password protected. Encrypt data and install security apps to deter data theft while on public networks.

Make sure employees understand protocols for mobile devices and how to report lost or stolen devices.

7. Control Physical Access

Encourage all employees to keep their laptops password protected and locked when not in use. Prevent unauthorized individuals from using business computers.

Don’t hand out administrative privileges to all your employees. Reserve this for IT personnel and management to prevent data leaks or downloads of pirated software.

Although you want to trust your employees, you have to be careful. Too many people with various passwords is never a good plan.

8. Require Password Authentication

Layers of password authentication can help you protect your critical business data. Require each employee to have a unique password and encourage them to change passwords every three months.

Consider using multi-factor authentication. This requires users to know additional information beyond a password to gain access.

Check with your vendors, accountants, financial institutions, or any outside associates who handle your sensitive business data. Ask if they use multi-factor authentication to access your accounts.

9. Secure Wi-Fi Networks

Unsecure Wi-Fi networks are an invitation for cyber theft. You need a Wi-Fi network for your business. But make sure it’s as secure as possible.

Your network information should be encrypted and hidden from public view. Ensure your wireless access point or router doesn’t broadcast the network name or Service Set Identifier (SSID). Be sure to password protect Wi-Fi access.

10. Ensure Best Practices With Payments

You want to be able to take payments without any issues. Your customers depend on you to safeguard their financial information. They want a fast and safe payment method.

Make sure banks or financial institutions you use employ the latest tools and anti-fraud services. Isolate your payment systems from less secure programs.

Make sure employees don’t use the same computer to accept payments, surf the Internet or attend to their personal business.

11. Update Software

A clean computer is essential for smooth online service. It’s also a good defense against online threats.

Make sure your computer systems are up-to-date and running on the latest software. Ensure you’re receiving automatic updates as they become available.

A clean system is your best defense against viruses, malware, spyware, and other online threats.

Have an IT professional set antivirus software to run a scan after software updates. Be sure you’re getting relevant updates as they become available.

12. Monitor Personal Devices

If you’re a small business owner, you probably don’t provide employees with mobile devices for personal use. Because of this, there’s always a risk when employees access company data.

One option to consider is monitoring software to ensure your sensitive data remains secure. You do not need to invade employee privacy or disallow specific apps.

The aim is to protect your business from employees on their personal devices.

13. Recognize Common Scams

The purpose of a scam is to fool you, and cyber criminals are masters at it. That’s why it’s so important to be aware of potential scams.

Educate your employees so they know what to watch for. Hackers or cyber criminals frequently use tactics like phishing emails or texts, social media spam, social engineering attacks, and malware downloads.

Something that appears as innocent as a text or email could have serious consequences for your business.

Being aware and implementing protective measures can help keep your sensitive data protected. This can save you a lot of time, stress, and money in the long run.

14. Perform Background Checks

When you think of cybersecurity, you may automatically think of outside attacks. But cybersecurity must start within.

In fact, it could be happening right before your eyes. Employees are the biggest threat to your business. Although you can’t ever be 100% certain an employee is honest, you can take measures to weed out those with a history of theft.

It’s important to be vigilant with your hiring and onboarding processes. Make sure you do background checks and verify references.

Maintain a connection with your employees. Be observant about what is going on in the workplace.

Have an open-door policy and encourage all staff members to speak up if they notice something out of the ordinary.

15. Shred Business Documents

It’s not just digital data that needs to be safeguarded. Physical documents are a concern as well.

Access to sensitive documents should be limited. All other access should require authorization.

If your employees have access to sensitive documentation, it’s hard to determine the source if it goes missing. Limiting access can help you determine a paper trail.

Shred old records or hard copies of sensitive data. Have a process in place and someone to oversee it.

16. Check Your Vulnerability to Hacking

As a business owner, it’s smart to know where your vulnerabilities lie. One way to determine system weaknesses is to take a good look at your current security measures and identify where you can improve.

Professional IT services in Los Angeles can audit your system to check for weaknesses. They can help you develop new strategies to protect your data and keep your business running as it should.

Making changes to secure your computer systems protects your business, your employees, and your customers from potential cyber threats.

17. Prepare for the Worst

Cyber attacks happen every day. And you could be next. Because these types of attacks are prevalent, it’s smart to prepare yourself for the worst.

Unless you’re a cybersecurity expert, don’t try to go it alone. Enlist the help of IT support in Los Angeles. They can help you recognize and prevent cyber theft. And they can help you create a plan for your business in case disaster strikes.

18. Don’t Mix Work and Pleasure

If you’re a busy professional, it’s normal for your work and family life to blur at times. You may take work home with you or handle personal business in the office on occasion.

Whenever possible, try to keep your business operations separate from your home life. Don’t store business data on the same devices you share with family members or friends.

This puts your data at unnecessary risk. It’s a much better practice to keep your work technology out of the hands of anyone who shouldn’t have access to it.

Types of Threats to Small Businesses

Cybercriminals are fearless in their pursuit of sensitive data. Although they are always creating new scams and schemes, here are a few common methods to be aware of.

Phishing Scams

This occurs when a cybercriminal targets an email recipient and tries to entice them into opening a malware-laden link or malicious attachment.

This is a very common scam, and innocent people fall prey to it every day.

Drive-By Downloads

With a drive-by download, a malicious website attempts to install software on your computer without your consent. This occurs when operating systems are out of date and proper security measures are not in place.

Watering Holes

This occurs when legitimate websites are hacked and turned into malicious websites. This typically occurs without the knowledge of the site’s owner.

The goal is to install malware on a device. This requires the user to complete an action such as clicking on a link, entering personal information, or downloading a file.

Best Practices for Small Businesses

When your business is a victim of a cyberattack, a data breach may occur. This can reveal a variety of sensitive data, including documents, intellectual property, social security numbers, financial information, credit card numbers, and more.

Cybercriminals may attempt to mine information about your employees and customers. This is a growing global problem, and every business is at risk.

Cybersecurity begins with awareness. You want to know the risks and the best practices for protecting your business from these potential threats.

If you’re searching for IT support in LA, make sure you hire a reputable team of experts to help you develop a plan to protect your business data.

The more proactive you are regarding cybersecurity, the better you’re able to secure your company’s information.

Finding IT Support in LA

Cyber crimes are a growing concern for business owners. It’s crucial to understand the need for cybersecurity for your business.

Your business is a huge investment and one of your greatest assets. You want to do everything you can to protect your company from a cybersecurity breach.

Consult an IT expert to help you review your security practices and create a plan to protect your business, employees, and customers from ruthless cyber criminals.

If you’re looking for IT support in LA, we’d love to assist you with all your technology needs. We can assist you with IT security, consulting, and support. Contact us today to learn more.

About Chad Lauterbach

CEO at Be Structured Technology Group, Inc. a Los Angeles based provider of Managed IT Services for small business. I desire to help small businesses better utilize technology by assisting in high level planning to make sure that new systems will benefit them both operationally and financially. I am careful to implement and support systems using industry best practices.