If you’re anxious about cyber security for your business, that’s actually a good thing. It means you’re aware that cyber security threats are growing, and that businesses of a kinds are falling victim to cyberattacks. Some industries are more likely to be under attack than others (a shocking 89% of healthcare organizations have had a data breach or theft in the past two years!), but small and large businesses alike in any industry can lose millions of dollars and their reputation with customers after a breach. The average cost of a healthcare data breach, for instance, is $2.2 million!

So what can you do to protect your sensitive business data from threats? Use these 7 tips in your business to protect your data and improve your online security.

1. Educate Staff
One of a business’s biggest liabilities when it comes to data security is its employees. Some fall for phishing scams coming through email, while others may not even think about the fact that they’re exposing sensitive data when they check email on a mobile device in public.

Your first step in data security should always be to raise awareness and train your employees on the importance of data security and best practices. You can simplify this process by having a designated person be up to date and educated in cyber security to teach the team on an ongoing basis.

2. Implement Cybersecurity Policies
If you don’t have any guidelines for how your employees should use sensitive data and company devices, there’s no time like the present. You should have policies on employees accessing data from multiple devices, best practices for spotting email scams, and how to respond in case of a breach. It’s important to have consequences for not following guidelines—otherwise, they’re just words.

3. Create a Security Plan for Mobile Devices
Mobile devices are beginning to be the biggest threat to data security. In addition to creating policies to guide the use of mobile devices to view sensitive data, it’s important to have a plan in place for securing these devices should they get lost or stolen.

4. Require Strong Passwords
Almost all of us fall short when it comes to our own personal online passwords. About 59% of people re-use passwords, and many people use the same passwords for every site. Worse, many people share passwords—even work passwords—with friends or family.

With this in mind, you should insist that employees use strong passwords. These passwords can be paired with two-factor authentication for even stronger security. Remind your employees that work passwords should not be shared with anyone—sharing passwords opens your business up to data theft—and worse.

5. Back Up Your Data
Ransomware has become a growing threat in recent years, with hackers holding data and system access “hostage”. One high-profile example of this was the ransomware attack on the city of Atlanta, in which cybercriminals demanded $51,000 to restore online services they had taken hostage.

Although ransomware can still be an issue if copies of the data exists, making backups is an important part of any cyber security plan. You should back up your data regularly, and store it in a different location than the original data. This will help to protect it from both cyberattacks and physical damage or theft.

6. Be Mindful of Unsecured Connections
Your company’s own connection should be secured by passwords, a firewall, encryption, and other measures. However, you may not have considered the dangers of connecting to an unsecured or minimally secured public network like at a coffee shop or airport. It’s convenient to be able to do work from anywhere, but you and your employees need to be careful about where you connect.

7. Do Routine Security Audits
It’s important to make cybersecurity an ongoing effort, not just a one-time push. You should schedule and carry out routine security audits to assess vulnerabilities, make changes if needed, and reassess your policies. Hackers are always evolving their methods, and it’s important for businesses to stay one step ahead.

Ignorance is Not Bliss in Cyber Security
Following these 7 tips is a good start, but it’s important to educate yourself about cyber security. Cybercriminals take advantage of companies that are ignorant about cyber security, as these businesses are the easiest targets. Keep up with best practices, do the best you can to keep your business data safe, and you’ll be doing better than many of today’s businesses that store data digitally.

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