a hacker breaks into a digital system on a laptop

8 ways to protect your small business from hackers

Posted on 22nd July 2022 by

a hacker breaks into a digital system on a laptop

Protecting your small business from cyber-attacks can seem like a daunting task – especially when hackers have lots of resources and you don’t. It may seem impossible, but there are ways you can protect your business from hackers without breaking the bank to do so.

Keep reading to learn more about the affordable tools and techniques you can use to defend your small business against cyber threats.


How to protect a small business from hackers

There are many ways you can protect your business that don’t take long and don’t require masses of technical expertise. Here are our eight best practice recommendations for keeping your business safe from cyber criminals.


1. Educate your employees and customers

You might think protecting your business’ online presence is all about firewalls and complicated virtual defences, but the best way to avoid cyber-attacks is to reduce the risk of human error. Often, innocent, well-meaning mistakes can leave your business wide open and vulnerable to cybercrime. Introducing your employees to cyber security training can help.

But it’s not just your employees who can put your business at risk. Customer accounts are also vulnerable to hackers, and if you want to provide the best user experience, it’s important to educate your customers on the best ways to keep their accounts secure. That way you can get on with doing business without pesky hackers and malware getting in the way.


2. Update your software

Another way to help protect your small business against malware is to keep all of your software updated. All updates – yes, even that one you’ve been putting off for weeks – help to improve the program you’re using, and most will come with some form of improved security. Updating your software regularly means you’ll have the best version possible to defend against cybercrime.


3. Be smart with logins

It can seem like you’re always seeing advice on password protection online – and there’s a reason for that. Making sure you have a strong password can help to make it harder for hackers to guess your login and get into your account. Here are some best practices for creating a strong password:

  • Use both letters and numbers
  • Use uppercase and lowercase letters – passwords are case sensitive
  • Use symbols if possible e.g. ()*&^%£
  • Try to switch up your logic – use numbers or symbols to replace letters, deliberately spell things wrong, or use an acronym of a phrase.

Remember, it’s always best to change your password regularly – and especially if someone has tried to use it to access your account. If you struggle to remember new passwords, don’t be tempted to reuse an old one, or use the same password for multiple accounts. This will make it easy for hackers. A better idea would be to use a password storage service so you can look them up easily.

If possible, you should also set up multi-factor authentication for your accounts. This is where you have to do more than one thing to get into your account. For example, you might have to enter your password and a verification code sent to your phone or answer a security question instead. Hackers can’t get into your account if they can’t get past every level of authentication required.

Where security questions are used, it also pays to be smart about the answers you set for them. Questions like ‘what is your mother’s maiden name?’ or ‘in which town was your first job?’ are easily checked against data on social media sites like Facebook or even profiles on jobseeker websites. Although it’s better than nothing, you can do better than this to keep your account safe.


So how should you answer them instead? Well, where possible you should try to answer the questions that as few people as possible know the answer to – steer clear of information you’ve shared publicly. The best way to answer these questions is with something that makes sense to you, but no one else. Just make sure you keep it memorable or store the answers somewhere secure.


4. Limit access to sensitive data

One of the easiest ways to keep hackers out of your sensitive data is to keep everyone out of your sensitive data. Of course, you don’t have to literally keep everyone out, but limiting access to only those who really need to use the data will mean hackers have fewer opportunities to breach security.


5. Use password vaults

Some password storage software uses url checking to make sure you’re logging into official websites rather than copies made by hackers to get your information. Password vaults are also a great way to store passwords and answers to security questions – but make sure you have a secure master password or all of your accounts will be vulnerable.


6. Check your downloads

Sometimes we need to download software off the internet – it’s unavoidable. Making sure you’re clicking on the right link and downloading safe content rather than malware is vital for protecting your small business against cybercrime. Always check that you’re on a company’s official website, look at any reviews, and find active installation data to make sure the download is safe.


7. Use antivirus and antimalware protection

Most cyber protection software will include a variety of tools that help to protect your small business against hackers – from link checkers to virus blockers to technology that removes existing malware from your systems. These will all help to keep your business safe.


8. Take out cyber insurance

Taking out cyber insurance won’t protect your business against being hacked in the first place, but it will help to limit the effects of cybercrime. Making sure your small business is covered against cyber-attacks means you can get a payout to cover the costs of compensating customers, repairs, and replenishing any losses you may face.