Free Ways SMEs can Improve Cybersecurity

When it comes to running a small- or medium-sized business, it can be hard to find the time to keep up to date with the latest cybersecurity tips. For many business owners, this translates into leaving their security lagging behind the current thinking, when introducing small changes could have a huge impact on protecting sensitive data – and save their businesses money in the long run.  

At Sentis Managed Solutions, we run through some of the best free ways to improve cybersecurity for small and medium-sized businesses to help get you up to speed. Remember that with cybersecurity, constantly evolving threats mean that the standard is a moving target, so remain vigilant and keep up to date with industry best practices.  

 

Why do SMEs need to improve Cybersecurity?

With a rapid increase in threats throughout the past few years, many SMEs are unprepared for the current digital landscape and unable to deal with attacks. Attack volumes have increased by up to 151%, and over 90% of IT networks are capable of being penetrated.  

There are a range of threats that businesses might face, including (but not limited to): 

  • Phishing attacks 
  • Ransomware 
  • Man-in-the-middle attacks 

Smaller and medium-sized companies are tempting potential targets for all of these attacks due to a lack of preparedness and offering attackers softer targets. The impact of cybercrime can be devastating for SMEs, with one in three businesses cite cyberattacks as being more disruptive than COVID or Brexit. It is imperative to do what you can to diminish the effects of these kinds of attacks.  

Let’s dive into some of the steps SMEs can take to boost their cybersecurity: 

  • Asset Management
  • User Access Control
  • Password Management
  • Keeping Software Up to Date
  • Data Backup Procedures
  • Training and Informing Employees
  • Free Cybersecurity Audit

 

Asset Management

Asset management refers to the process of identifying, organising, and maintaining a record of all the digital and physical resources that a business owns or uses. These assets can include computers, servers, software applications, data, network devices, and more. For small- and medium-sized business owners who might be new to the concept, asset management might seem like a technical term, but it offers significant benefits. 

It isn’t just about numbers and lists – it’s a proactive approach to securing your business’ digital landscape. By understanding what you have, you know what you need to protect. This way you can take steps towards fortifying your business against cyber threats. 

User Access Control

When you’re looking at access control, it can be helpful to think in terms of analogies; imagine you and your staff are prison guards, and spreading out the keys to individual cells amongst your team limits the damage that could occur if one of you has your keys stolen. User Access Control is similar to that, spreading out the risk and limiting who has access to what in your business.  

User Access Control (UAC) is a fundamental aspect of cybersecurity that plays a crucial role in safeguarding your business’ sensitive information and digital assets – in the terms of the analogy, UAC helps you control who has which keys. 

UAC involves:

  • Access Mapping: Identify the different roles within your business and the corresponding resources they need access to. Not everyone requires the same level of access. 
  • Least Privilege Principle: Apply the principle of least privilege, giving users the minimum access necessary to perform their tasks. This reduces the potential impact of a security breach.
  • Authentication Methods: Implement strong authentication methods such as two-factor authentication (2FA) or multi-factor authentication (MFA) to add an extra layer of security to user logins.
  • Regular Review: Periodically review and update access permissions. Employees’ roles might change over time, so make sure their access still aligns with their responsibilities.
  • Employee Training: Educate your employees about the importance of User Access Control and how it contributes to the overall security of the business. Encourage them to report any unusual access or activity.

User Access Control is a powerful tool that gives you precise control over who interacts with your business’ digital assets. By implementing UAC practices, you’re taking significant strides in fortifying your business’ cybersecurity. 

Password Management

Good Password Management can greatly enhance the protection of your business’ digital assets and sensitive information. For small- and medium-sized business owners who may not be well-versed in cybersecurity, understanding the importance of effective password management is essential for maintaining a strong defence against cyber threats. Having the same passwords for an extended period can make your defences less secure, and if staff use the same passwords across multiple websites, a data breach elsewhere outside of your control could lead to letting attackers in.  

By taking the time to implement and promote good password practices, you’re building a stronger defence against cyber threats and demonstrating your commitment to safeguarding your business’ digital assets. Whether you use a password manager or ensure that your teams keep updating their passwords (without repeating them!) to reduce risk of data breaches, keeping on top of password management can be a great way to limit the potential for an attack. It’s also important to consider the physical aspect of password management, making sure that your teams aren’t writing their passwords down anywhere that can be accessed.  

Keeping Software Up to Date

Keeping your software up to date is absolutely crucial to cybersecurity! Updates to applications and software often include additional security measures, and generally patch issues that had been found in previous versions. One of the best ways to keep on top of your software updates is to ensure that you have auto-updates turned on for each piece of software that you use.  

Regularly updating your software is a simple yet powerful tool in your kit to bolster your cybersecurity efforts. By making it a routine practice to keep your software up to date, you’re actively reducing the potential attack surface for cyber threats and demonstrating your commitment to maintaining a secure digital environment for your business. 

Data Backup Procedures

By establishing solid data backup procedures, you can take active steps to make sure that you don’t lose anything valuable should disaster strike. The investment of time and resources in maintaining effective backups can have a substantial impact on your business’ ability to recover quickly. 

The benefits of implementing secure data backup processes include: 

  • Disaster Recovery: Data loss can occur due to various reasons, such as hardware failures, cyberattacks, or human errors. Proper data backup ensures you have a reliable way to recover lost data and minimise downtime.
  • Ransomware Mitigation: Ransomware attacks can encrypt your data – making it unreadable without a password that the attackers control – and demand payment for its release. With up-to-date backups, you have the option to restore your systems without giving in to cybercriminal demands.
  • Business Continuity: In the event of a data breach or loss, having backups in place allows you to continue business operations while recovering lost information. 
  • Data Integrity: Backup procedures ensure that your data remains intact and unaltered. This is especially crucial for compliance with industry regulations and maintaining customer trust.
  • Protection Against Accidents: Accidental deletion or corruption of files can happen. Regular backups provide a safety net, allowing you to recover data without undue stress. 
  • Long-Term Data Preservation: Backing up essential data and records for the long term ensures that valuable information is preserved even if primary storage systems fail.

A good approach to backup is a the 3-2-1 Backup Strategy. Create three copies of your data and store each separately, either on the cloud or in a physically different location for secure recovery.  

Training and Informing Employees

One of the most effective steps that you can take when it comes to securing your business against cyberattacks – but one of the most overlooked – is keeping your employees up to speed with the steps you’re taking. Having the best systems and software in place can be great, but unless your teams know what they are and how to use them – and are trained to avoid bad password management and social engineering attacks – your security might be easily bypassed.  

Taking the time to keep your teams informed on best practices and how to avoid falling for common social engineering attempts can be a massive boost to your overall cybersecurity.  

Free Cybersecurity Audit

If you’re concerned about whether your cybersecurity processes are fit to stand up to modern threats, Sentis offer a free cybersecurity audit to let you know what you’re missing. Our experts offer a free, no-obligation cybersecurity audit to spot vulnerabilities in your systems and let you know where criminals might look to exploit your current security.  

If you’d like to know more about cybersecurity for small- and medium-sized businesses, get in touch with the experts at Sentis. We provide you with peace of mind, offering protection from external threats to your business.

Contact us here to have a chat about your business’ cybersecurity.