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Throughout 2016 and 2017, the rise of cybersecurity attacks on small and medium businesses has made many business owners and IT professionals aware of the increased need to protect themselves against hackers. Unfortunately, many people have no idea where to start! These tactics will help make your business hard to hack and ensure that you’re protected against many of the threats that could potentially target your business.

1. Take a Layered Approach to Security

A single layer of technical security means that you’re putting all of your eggs in one basket. You’re trusting that the security system you’ve chosen won’t fail and that a hacker won’t be able to slip in through a corner left unprotected. A layered approach to security, on the other hand, can provide an increased level of protection that will keep your business safer if a hacker does target your business. A series of security protections is one of the best ways to ensure that your business is surrounded by the protections it needs in order to prevent an attack. This might include:

  • Firewalls
  • Intrusion detection systems
  • Malware scanners
  • Encryption tools
  • Data backups
  • Physical security
  • Considered security policies

While you can never be 100% sure that your business is secure from cybersecurity threats, you can take steps to raise your security and ensure that you’re as well-protected as you can be–and a layered security system helps close the gaps and provide additional protection to your business.

2. Create Strong Security Policies

Quick: how should an employee at your company respond if they suspect that they’ve acquired malware on their computer? If an employee is responsible for a cybersecurity breach, how will it be handled? Your security policies can be the difference between a well-protected company and one that will struggle with threats from the outside. Make sure you’ve designed clear cybersecurity policies that include the details your employees need to keep the business safe.

Acceptable Use Policy: Your acceptable use policy governs how equipment and technology owned by the company can be used. It may also include information about how it is acceptable to use personal technology, including phones, tablets, laptops, and more, on company time or on the company network.

User Access: Different individuals within your company need different levels of access to the network. Create a policy that designates this access and ensures that each employee is left at the right level.

Password protection: How often do users have to change passwords? What level of complexity is required of those passwords? Do you have a policy in place that will prevent users from, for example, using dictionary words or names as part of their passwords? What about insisting that they change the entire word, not just adding a new number to it? You should also be sure that users are actually changing their passwords at each company-mandated change, not just rotating through a series of passwords.

Data usage and confidentiality: Some industries deal with more complex or private data than others. Make sure every employee within the organization understands how that data can and should be used.

3. Maintain Network Monitoring

Plenty of data moves through your network every day. Part of preventing malicious input from that data is monitoring network traffic and examining it for any signs of unfamiliar behavior. Traffic monitoring tools will allow your IT team to monitor traffic, observe it, and react to potential threats before they’re able to take over your network. They’ll also be able to monitor user behavior, noting employees who, for example, spend too much time on social media or who are prone to visiting sites that could be infected with malware. Great network monitoring software can also detect and act quickly on potential threats.

4. Initiate Data Loss Prevention Tactics

DLP, or data loss prevention, is designed to help keep confidential information on your network as secure as possible. This could include everything from corporate data to confidential client information. By installing DLP tools on your network, you can:

  • Prevent users from forwarding company emails outside the business environment
  • Protect files that should not be saved to outside sources
  • Reduce the odds that an employee will maliciously or accidentally share confidential information with someone outside the organization

In many cases, you’ll find that your employees have the potential to be one of the biggest threats to your organization–whether they intend to be or not! By installing DLP tools, you’ll be able to prevent employees from acting against your business.

5. Use Two Factor Authentication

Password security is great, but it’s not always enough to prevent hackers from accessing confidential data. Two factor authentication, on the other hand, creates an additional layer of security that makes it easier to protect critical business data. Instead of taking just one step to log in–usually entering a username and password–two factor authentication requires an additional layer of security before users can proceed. Sometimes, this is as simple as having a key fob to enter a building or using a biometric scanner. In other cases, it requires users to use something that they–and only they–have in order to log in. For example, a log-in code might be sent to a user’s cell phone that they must then enter before they can launch a specific program or gain access to the company network. This security measure can go a long way toward preventing unauthorized access to your company’s systems.

Maintaining your business’s security is harder than ever. In spite of those increasing challenges, however, many businesses have found that these measures make them more secure. There’s no such thing as impossible to hack. These five keys to cybersecurity, however, can help make your business harder to hack and keep your confidential data more secure.