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The basics of cybersecurity for your small business

Does your business use the Internet? Do you have a cybersecurity plan in place? If you answered ‘yes’ to the first question but not the second, it’s time to give your network security some more thought.

The days of grammar-challenged emails from fake foreign princes are in the past. Cybercrime is on the rise, hackers are becoming more creative, and regardless of the type of business you run, you have information that they’re looking for—from customer records to banking information.

As a business owner, you should be considering these risks in the same way you would take any threat to your bottom line seriously. You don’t need to be an expert (though talking to one is a good idea), but basic knowledge can help guide you towards an effective strategy. These questions are a good place to start:

Related: Ask a tech expert: How do I set up a virtual office? 

Are your cybersecurity policies clear for employees?  Write them down, specifying what types of network activities are allowed and which ones are prohibited. Include guidance on how to handle everyday communications, like email and attachments, how to create strong passwords and protect them, and how to safely access the network remotely.

What are your most important digital assets, and who uses them? It could be customer records, or intellectual property. Anything of value should be evaluated to determine what they are worth, where they reside, who has access to them, and how that access is controlled. Think about what a security breach involving these assets could do to your business—from disruptions to service, to hard financial costs. Also consider how you would survive a cyber attack. Do you have backup and recovery capabilities to restore information if necessary?

What security do you have in place right now? Take an inventory of your current security measures. Do you have antivirus software, to help protect the network against common threats like viruses, worms, and Trojan horses? Do you have a firewall, to keep unauthorized users off your network? How about a virtual private network (VPN), to give employees, customers, and partners secure access to your network? The most effective solution is a comprehensive security device that lets you control access to network resources, which helps protect business data and maximize network uptime. Your security solution should integrate firewall, virtual private network (VPN), antivirus, and other security technologies. Look for a solution that’s designed for small and medium-sized businesses, is easy to use, and can grow with you as your business and security needs evolve.


Looking to learn more about cybersecurity? Fill in a short survey to register for the free virtual training from the Cisco Networking Academy, and sign up for Introduction to Cybersecurity. This informative online course covers trends and insightful material on computer network security.