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4 Security Tips for Small Businesses: Stay Safe Online

man-working-at-deskIt wasn’t that long ago when all a small business had to do was to make sure the locks on the door worked and it could honestly say that the business was secure. The online age has drastically changed this approach. Now, not only do small businesses need to protect against physical threats, but online threats are an even bigger concern. Think of all of the private information that is stored on small business computers. This information can lead to fraud and could even cripple the infrastructure of a business. If you own or work for a small business, you can’t afford to skip over our security best practices and small business tips.

Small Business Security Tips

Checkout these 4 security tips we’ve put together for small businesses to help you and your organization stay secure on and offline.

Utilize 2-Factor Authentication

  • 2-Factor Authentication requires not only a password and username, but also something that only the user possesses, such as a physical token.
  • This process can help decrease the chance of identity theft and phishing, because the criminal would need more than just the user’s name and password to access online accounts.
  • Remember to use this method as much as possible, including with your Google and Facebook accounts.

Create Strong Passwords

  • Use 12-18 digits, or the maximum number of characters allowed.
  • Create a randomly generated password.
  • Always use a combination of alpha, numeric, upper & lowercase and at least one special character (for example: Ge!3S@prQjp+71Zam*).

Store Your Passwords With A Password Management Service

  • With a service like LastPass, passwords are protected by a master password, encrypted locally, and are synchronized to any browser. Most password managers also utilize form fillers that automate password entering and form filling while keeping your passwords unique and secure.
  • This type of service eliminates the need to write passwords on paper or keep them on a file in your computer which is a security hazard in itself.
  • Small and medium business employees often need to wear several different hats throughout the day. If you must leave your desk or computer, always log off so others cannot access your workstation.
  • Set a password to access your desktop after the screensaver starts and your mobile device after a short time of no activity as well.
  • Always exit sites and apps with security-sensitive data when you’re done using it.
  • Because most small and medium businesses do not have dedicated IT personnel, an employee may carry the burden of maintaining his or her own computer. Never install a software or app update from the web before researching whether the update is legitimate.
  • Never use public WiFi; at a coffee shop, hotel, etc. Public WiFi is nice but it is an easy way for hackers and thieves to gain free access to your company’s important/sensitive data or personal information.
    • If you must use public Wifi, make sure you turn off sharing on your computer and perhaps avoid using files that contain sensitive data.

Use AntiVirus Software

  • Set up a consistent schedule to run antivirus scans on all computers.
  • Visit our Best AntiVirus Software page to find the best solution for your small business, including spyware, malware and other protections as well.

Bonus Tip: Use Prey Anti-Theft

Many of us have Prey Anti-Theft installed which erases data in the event of a lost or stolen laptop or phone. Our social media manager actually unfortunately had to use this last year and it saved us a huge amount of fear and discomfort. In addition we use apps like find my iPhone and all have passwords to protect devices from strangers accessing them.

VIDEO: How to Make Your Password More Secure

Security Best Practices Summary

We understand the burden and time constraints that these practices can place on a business. However, all it would take is one security breach for any small business owner to wish time had been taken to implement these strategies. Taking these security precautions are crucial so your small business and employees can flourish while staying safe from technology attacks.

Do you have more security tips for small businesses you’d like to share? Have you been victim to a cyber attack? Join the conversation below.

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About David DeMille
David comes to with several years of experience in the security industry. He's installed, troubleshooted, and reviewed security equipment and technology, and is passionate about sharing his research.
  • 2-Factor Authentication is good, but there are times when it causes problems, such as when you want your virtual assistant to access your account. Some tools, such as MailChimp and WordPress, will allow you to add users to your accounts, but Google is not one of them.

    • Excellent point Janet, but I think giving account access to a virtual assistant can be a security concern on its own. It is nice to see some companies allow a workaround by being able to add users, as this seems like it would be more secure than providing your own login credentials.

      • I understand what you’re saying, but the very point of a virtual assistant is so you can delegate work to them – if they can’t get into your accounts, they can’t really help you!

  • Jeff Butler

    These are all great tips. It wasn’t that long ago that I was really overwhelmed with the idea of using long passwords with multiple characters. Once I switched to LastPass I knew I no longer had a concern. The program makes it easy to instantly create and store these passwords so that I don’t have to remember them. I just login using my master password and I’m off an running.

    • Alex Schenker

      Here’s another vote for LastPass. Our whole team uses it to share and synchronize passwords safely across all our devices. Just make sure you have 2-factor authentication and other optional security features enabled.