A data breach could cripple a small business. Data breaches affect a business's reputation, which leads to fewer customers and less revenue—not to mention the potential fines and legal fees. Since small businesses are more likely to have the least amount of resources protecting them, they are often targeted.
The good news? Most security threats are preventable!
It’s important to choose the best security tools for your small business. As a small business, you must optimize your IT budget to balance cost with the right level of protection.
Here are some of the best tools to have in your cybersecurity strategy:
- Security Awareness Training
- Network Firewall
- Virtual Private Network
- Device and Application Patching
- Email Encryption
- Device Encryption
- Password Manager
Security Awareness Training
Employees are the most common entrypoint for malware. Training your employees to identify the signs of phishing and other scams will increase awareness.
Subscription-based services provide expert-level education at a fraction of the cost of many services, which are usually based on the number of users. The experts create relevant training that you schedule for users to take regularly; then, the service sends a phishing test to users to effectively change behavior.
Every business needs to be equipped with a firewall. Firewalls are the traditional first line of defense against cybersecurity threats because they have proven effective in stopping malicious activity. Firewalls monitor incoming and outgoing traffic for potential threats.
A firewall can be a big investment depending on your business’s needs. For example, the cost of equipment, installation, and upkeep requires a large portion of your IT budget. However, investing in a managed firewall can reduce your capital expense.
Another cornerstone in security, anti-virus software is widely used to detect and remove viruses and other forms of malware. However, as malware advances faster than traditional anti-virus software, modern anti-virus is recommended. Hackers are purposely creating malicious threats that bypass traditional anti-virus software because the software looks for known viruses.
Modern anti-virus software does a better job of detecting malicious activity before it begins, such as suspicious folders or documents.
We recommend Sophos EndPoint Protection to combine approaches to optimize your IT spend without sacrificing protection.
BONUS: Sophos offers a version for home use, which extends your office-level protection to remote work.
Virtual Private Network (VPN)
VPNs provide small businesses with an encrypted connection to the internet via a secure network. The most popular firewalls for small businesses (such as Sophos, Cisco, and SonicWALL) have VPN capability included. Read through the details of your plan carefully: some firewall plans require additional licensing, whereas others offer the service without additional costs.
Device and application patching
This tool is free! Cyber-attackers look for vulnerabilities in a company’s system, and vendors regularly patch these weaknesses through software updates.
This is a tool within other tools.
So, checking for and running system and software updates can save you from the havoc of a data breach. Managing and auditing patch statuses across the organization will ensure maximum protection for your small business.
Drive encryption is a way to keep your data private by encrypting (or scrambling) the data on your hard drive so it can’t be read without a key. With this, a stolen or misplaced laptop is no longer a risk.
While there are third-party tools available, Windows 10 (Microsoft BitLocker) and Mac OSX (Apple FileVault) have built-in drive encryption software. Adding a central management tool like Sophos ensures you never lose the encryption keys. It also makes it easy to deploy and manage encryptions over multiple devices (an added cost in most cases).
Email encryption gives employees the ability to send sensitive information securely. It works by disguising the content of the email, making it useless to anyone without the password.
Many services, including Office 365, have an email encryption offering. This can be included or as an add-on to the base subscription.
One of the oldest tools available to small businesses is developing strong passwords and changing them often for every account. A company-managed password manager will help employees remember their passwords without writing them down or holding them in insecure locations.
Services such as LastPass have free versions. Upgrading to the paid version will allow for more better control and insight into password security. We also recommend password management tools like 's ManageEngine's ADSelfService Plus that lets users reset passwords and unlock their accounts.
Hackers hope and expect small businesses to opt out of a complete cybersecurity plan. There is a lot to choose from, so prioritize the tools available based on your business’s greatest risks. Managing cybersecurity, and its costs, is easier with partners like us. Let us know if we can help evaluate your security plan!