There’s a freedom that comes with running your own business all by yourself, but it’s not without its obstacles. You run your own marketing. You close your own sales. You answer customer feedback and complaints. You even act as your own IT department. Especially when something goes wrong.
Why cyber security matters for small businesses
Building customer loyalty and trust is a big part of growing your small business. For solopreneurs, you're responsible for keeping every file, asset, and contract that comes across your desk safe. On top of that, your thriving business is probably housed almost entirely online and on your computer. What happens if you suffer a cyber attack, or your computer gets compromised?
Viruses, malware, ransomware attacks, phishing scams, and more. There are plenty of cyber security threats capable of ruining your day.
“It will never happen to us, we’re too small!”
You may think hackers have bigger fish to fry, but small businesses are targeted more often than you’d think. 56% of cyber attacks strike small businesses, according to Verizon’s 2021 Data Breach Investigation Report.
When you think about it, this shouldn’t be too much of a surprise. Large businesses tend to have the resources—and funds—to invest in top-quality cyber security solutions and strategies. They probably have a team dedicated to catching DDOS attacks, malware, phishing scams—the lot. But if you’re running a small business, that might all be the responsibility of one poor IT guy. Or if you’re a solopreneur, it’s all on you.
That’s why you need to have cyber security strategies in place to protect your business and your customers’ data.
What is a cyber security strategy?
Cyber security strategies are measures you can take to secure your business assets and minimize cyber risk. They can range from simple actions, such as changing your passwords every now and again, to regularly backing up your assets.
It’s not a case of picking one or the other, either. After all, not every small business will approach cyber strategies the same way. However, the following cyber security strategies are critical to consider as a solopreneur.
Make regular updates
Simple, but effective. As cyber security strategies go, this is an easy one to overlook, but more important than you might think.
Most hackers and cyber criminals are opportunists. They use constantly changing tactics to exploit vulnerabilities online. To combat this, only install reliable software with strong security features. The software provider should have a team that regularly pushes updates to protect their customers from threats. It’s then up to you to install them.
Avoid putting off an update because you don’t want to restart your computer. Instead, make checking for updates part of your regular routine. Start by setting yourself weekly reminders to check your software and hardware for updates. If you work with a wider team, agree on an update policy. If everyone’s on the same page, cyber security breaches are much less likely.
Have one eye on your Wi-Fi
No matter how secure your computer may seem, if your business interacts with the internet in any way, you need to consider your network security.
- Start by changing the default name of your Wi-Fi to throw off potential hackers. A default Service Set Identifier (SSID) name such as “Axz3de” might seem hard to identify, but all of a manufacturer's routers are preconfigured with the same SSID. That means if one gets compromised, they all could be.
- Next, set a unique, secure password. This should be changed every 3 months, so if it’s Fall and you’ve not changed your password since Summer, it’s probably time to change it.
- Enable network encryption such as WPA2. This is usually turned off by default, but can be turned on in your router’s security settings.
- Stop your network name from broadcasting to the general public. This is usually the default behavior, but you can disable this in your router’s wireless settings.
- Keep your router’s software up to date with firmware updates.
- Consider using two-factor authentication (2FA) to verify those logging on to your network.
On top of that, there are other ways to add extra layers of protection to your network.
Use VPNs and firewalls if you need them
It feels like firewalls have existed since the dawn of the internet, and there’s a good reason for that: they work. Installing firewalls helps protect your computer and prevent data breaches by managing your network traffic. Unsolicited, unwanted incoming network traffic and malware are automatically blocked by firewalls. Most of the time, you won’t even know they’re doing their job.
Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) are a newer tool in the small business utility belt. VPNs create a secure, encrypted connection to the internet. This is very useful if you work with a distributed workforce—allowing team members to stay safely connected. Not every small business needs a VPN though. If you’re working remotely but only sharing files that aren’t sensitive, you probably don't need one.
Keep your cloud-based assets secure
Cloud services come in all shapes and sizes:
- Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS)—like Amazon Web Services (AWS)
- Platforms-as-a-service (PaaS)—including Microsoft Azure
- Software-as-a-service (SaaS)—such as Dropbox
These all help make businesses more flexible and agile. However, you still need to make sure the right measures are in place to protect your business.
For example, an important client’s email could get hacked. The hacker thinks they can now access all the files and folders you’ve been collaborating on—which includes private customer data.
Luckily, you’ve set up password protection on all the files and folders you shared. Moving quickly, you change the passwords, just in case, and stop the hacker in their tracks.
Set up permissions for the work you share
Secure cloud storage is an ideal way to keep your assets safe and easy for you to access. The right platforms also have built in ways to share your files and folders safely too. That means when you share a new set of advertising creative with an excited client, you don’t have to worry about the files falling into the wrong hands.
Dropbox allows you to set file permissions that limit or control access to any of your files, folders, and content. That means you can share files with anyone you want, and set their access to edit, or view-only. You can track file access and changes in real time, too—making the sign-off process more accountable.
As another layer of security, Dropbox also allows you to password protect any files or folders you share. So even if someone gets hold of a link to an asset you’ve shared, there’s no way they’re getting in easily.
Check your password security
Checking your password security is one of the most important cyber security strategies you can use.
Generic passwords like “Password123” or “123456789” are just asking for trouble and could be disastrous for your business. If you’re running your business solo, there’s no one to turn to for a quick password reset once a hacker is in your account.
Even if you are careful with your login details, there’s still a chance your password could become compromised. In a 2019 survey by Ponemon Instititute, 47% of small to medium sized businesses had suffered an attack involving the compromise of their employees’ passwords.
Investing in a password manager is one way to keep your passwords secure. Dropbox Passwords enables you to create and store all your passwords in the cloud. When you need them, they're ready to access, straight from your browser. Dropbox Passwords also has built-in password breach monitoring. If your information is at risk, we'll immediately alert you, giving you time to reset your passwords.
Set up backups, and backups of backups
Keeping your business growing and running smoothly will always be your top priority. The day-to-day hustle can mean you put some things on the back burner though.
Admin tasks like backing up your files and folders are an essential cyber security strategy for your business. As a solopreneur, you’re the only one responsible for the safety of your business’ files and assets.
You can manually backup your files onto an external hard drive, but there’s always a chance these can become corrupted. Besides, nobody wants to lug around an external hard drive “just in case”. Backing up your files with a cloud service is far more reliable. It means you can backup, access, and restore your files anywhere, anytime.
But what happens if you lose the computer your entire business is based on? Stolen, misplaced, or soaked in this morning’s coffee, it’s a solopreneur’s worst nightmare.
Dropbox Backup ensures you never have to worry about that, ever again. With as much storage as you need and the ability to recover an entire computer’s contents, you can pick up right where you left off.
There’s no need to go solo when it comes to cyber security
Cyber attacks happen, and small businesses have to deal with them. It’s a pain when it happens, but having the right cyber security strategies in place can help keep your business protected. Fortunately, it’s easier to set them up than you might think.