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Cybersecurity Tips for Small Businesses

May 24, 2024

In 2021, a Spring Valley, Illinois, hospital fell victim to a cyber-attack, causing their claims systems to be down for 14 weeks. And according to IBM, the cost of cyber-attacks to small businesses is on the rise, citing an increase in the global average cost of a data breach in 2023 of $4.45 million, an increase of 15% from the previous year.

With small businesses like yours becoming more reliant on technology, small-business owners must prioritize protecting the technology against cyber threats. The following are practical tips tailored for small-business owners to keep your technology and your business safe and sound.

1. Educate and Train Your Employees – Your team is the first line of defense against cyber threats. Train them on how to recognize phishing emails, suspicious links and potential cyber traps. The FCC provides an excellent resource on cybersecurity for small-business owners with easy training modules for your employees

2. Secure Your Networks – If your employees are your first line of defense, think of your business’ network as the fortress that protects your valuable data. Set up a strong and unique password or pass phrase for your Wi-Fi, change it regularly, and ensure it's not something easily guessable like "password123" or your company address or slogan. Kaspersky, a renowned cybersecurity authority, recommends using a combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols to create a strong password/pass phrase.

3. Update Software Regularly – Just like you’d maintain the equipment to keep your business running, it’s just as important to keep your software up to date too. The Small Business Administration (SBA) stresses the importance of allowing regular (automatic) software updates. These updates often include important security patches to fix vulnerabilities in the software that will help fend off potential cyber threats.

4. Back Up Your Data – Whether due to cyber-attack or equipment failure, it could all be gone in the blink of an eye. Regularly backing up your data means you won’t lose customer information, financial, or other data if you fall victim to an attack (or equipment failure).

5. Implement a Firewall – A firewall acts as a digital gatekeeper, monitoring and controlling incoming and outgoing network traffic. This extra layer of security can stop cybercriminals attempting to infiltrate your systems.

By taking a proactive approach to your business’ cybersecurity and implementing these tips, you’re not only safeguarding your business – you’re fortifying its future. So stay informed and stay secure! However, if you do fall victim to a cyber-attack, you are directed to contact your local FBI office and file a complaint immediately, regardless of the dollar amount lost, with the Internet Crime Complaint Center.

This article may reference and link to third party information that has been verified to the best of our abilities. There is no guarantee of accuracy. Heartland Bank does not endorse companies, services, or products referenced in its articles and is not responsible for the content, links, privacy, or security policies of these third parties. Information in the above article may include material from NBC News (https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/security/illinois-hospital-links-closure-ransomware-attack-rcna85983), IBM (https://www.ibm.com/reports/data-breach?utm_content=SRCWW&p1=Search&p4=43700074604558311&p5=p&gclid=CjwKCAiAsIGrBhAAEiwAEzMlCxqKZK11BNm VwjLqHmNeGZaUKUUjznj9n44rab0zAGDPajtS1s_dgRoCt4UQAvD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds), the Federal Communications Commission (https://www.fcc.gov/communications-business-opportunities/cybersecurity-small-businesses), Kaspersky (https://usa.kaspersky.com/resource-center/preemptive-safety/small-business-cyber-security), the U.S. Small Business Administration (https://www.sba.gov/business-guide/manage-your-business/strengthen-your-cybersecurity), the Federal Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (https://www.cisa.gov/news-events/news/understanding-firewalls-home-and-small-office-use), and the FBI (https://www.ic3.gov/).

This content is for informational purposes only. Readers should under no circumstances rely upon this information as a substitute for their own research or for obtaining specific advice from their own counsel.