Small businesses are particularly vulnerable to cyberattacks. Research shows that 46% of all data breaches happen to businesses with fewer than 1,000 employees. Your business network security should be a massive concern.
😱 61% of small businesses were victims of cyberattacks.
😱 82% of ransomware attacks were against companies with fewer than 1,000 employees.
😱 Up to 60% of small businesses ended up filing for bankruptcy within six months of suffering a data breach.
You may think that:
➡️ Your business is too small to fall victim to cyberattacks.
➡️ The software to protect business networks is too expensive.
➡️ You do not know where to start.
However, there are some affordable ways to protect your business network by using simple tools and tactics.
In this article, we will uncover why network security is crucial for small and medium businesses and why you can’t afford to ignore it.
Table of contents
What Is Business Network Security?
Your business could become a victim of cybercrime at any time. The more users, devices, and applications you add to your business, the more vulnerable your network becomes.
What Is Cybercrime?
This happens when people use computers to commit a crime such as fraud, stealing information, or violating privacy.
95% of cybercrime incidents at small businesses cost them up to $653,587 in 2021.
Business network security is the act of securing your network and data.
You can think of business network security as providing a barrier between outside threats and your internal network.
By using a combination of hardware, software, policies, and practices, you can protect your business network from being accessed by cybercriminals.
Using multiple layers of security measures, you can control who has access to your network, and you can effectively prevent threats.
This prevents any downtime due to cyberattacks and keeps your stored data out of hackers’ reach. Business network security ensures productivity and protects your income.
Why is network security so important for your small business?
A cyberattack can have far-reaching effects on your small business. Some of these include:
- Reputational risk: A data breach that leaks customer information to the public puts your business’s reputation at risk. The last thing you want is to end up on the news because hackers got hold of your customers’ personal information.
- Compromised operations: Cybercrime impacts your company’s ability to operate effectively.
- Downtime: A cyberattack can result in downtime and lost productivity, which means you are losing money every minute that your business network is compromised.
- Financial loss: It can be costly for your small business to recover from cyberattacks, as you may end up having to pay a ransom to resolve a ransomware attack or pay for repairs to your network.
Some Examples of How Security Breaches Have Recently Impacted Small Businesses
❌ A company called Efficient Escrow of California had to close its doors and lay off its entire team when hackers stole $1.5 million from their bank account. The hackers got into their business network by using malware.
❌ A small car dealership in Kansas called Green Ford Sales lost $23,000 when cybercriminals gained access to their company network and stole bank account information.
❌ PATCO Construction, a small Maine-based company, lost $1 million in a cyberattack. While they did manage to get some of the money back, the attack resulted in thousands of dollars in overdraft loans.
Small Business Network Security Tips
Now that you understand how important network security is, let’s explore some solutions. These strategies should all form part of your overall network security maintenance system.
- Set up a virtual private network
Small businesses are three times more likely to be targeted by cybercriminals than larger companies. A virtual private network (VPN) is a great way to prevent this.
VPN services allow you to securely log into your network from any location, which is perfect if you have employees that work remotely.
With a VPN, you will access the Internet through an encrypted tunnel, which means your data and activity are hidden from attackers.
Modern cloud VPN services like GoodAccess give small business owners complete control as they can customize every aspect of their network security from a user-friendly dashboard.
GoodAccess Cloud VPN
- From as little as $4 per month per user, you can subscribe to GoodAccess VPN to protect your business.
- GoodAccess ensures your sensitive information is kept secret from prying eyes, no matter where your remote team works from.
- In addition to the VPN, you also get a Threat Blocker that protects your business against harmful content, malicious websites, and network attacks.
- Using GoodAccess means that there is no infrastructure for you to set up. Your VPN will be ready for you in a matter of minutes.
- If you have any questions along the way or need any support, our friendly team is ready and waiting to help.
- Install a firewall
Only 14% of small businesses are ready to defend themselves against cyberattacks with solid business network security. Installing a firewall can help you safeguard your business against a security breach.
A firewall is a barrier between your business network and outside networks, such as the Internet.
This tool uses a set of defined rules to either allow or block incoming traffic. It locks all the ports—or entrances—that cybercriminals can use to attack your business network and steal your data.
You can use an affordable web application firewall to protect your business from unwanted traffic.
If a hacker sees that you have a strong firewall for your small business, they will be less likely to attack your organization.
How to Install a Firewall
You can use Windows Defender—which comes with all Windows computers—to turn on a firewall. Here’s how:
- Select System and Security.
- Navigate to Windows Defender Firewall.
- Choose Turn Windows Firewall On.
- Select Turn Firewall On for a domain, private, and public network settings
- Install antivirus software
A savvy hacker may use things like adware, malware, and viruses to breach your business network and cause damage.
Antivirus software, also known as antimalware software, detects any new threats and prevents malicious activity.
The average cost of antivirus software is around $30 per year, making this both an affordable and effective security solution. Combined with a DNS filter like our Threat Blocker, antivirus software can be powerful.
There are three main types of antivirus software:
- Malware signature antivirus: This software detects malicious software by scanning for digital fingerprints—-also known as malware signatures—-and disabling them.
- System monitoring antivirus: This type of protection monitors your software and systems for suspicious activity.
- Machine learning antivirus: This software assesses programs endpoints for suspicious activity and limits their activities.
It is a good idea to install antivirus software on all your users' work devices to prevent threats.
Typically, antivirus software is always running to detect malware, ransomware, and spyware the second they appear on a device.
For this reason, it is important always to keep your antivirus updated.
What to Look for When Choosing Antivirus Software
Ensure that the antivirus you choose includes:
- Email scanning.
- Download protection.
- Spyware and malware scans.
- Decent performance—as an antivirus can slow your computer down.
- Use multifactor authentication
A simple cybersecurity practice for small businesses is to use multifactor authentication (MFA).
According to Microsoft’s research, 99% of Office 365 account breaches would not have happened if MFA was used properly.
Multifactor authentication typically requires users to enter an additional password or another type of authentication like a PIN code or thumbprint.
Much like the kind of authentication needed to gain access to banking apps or for online shopping, multifactor authentication protects your data by ensuring only the right people access it.
Hackers will try to access your network if they can steal your login information. Multifactor authentication prevents them from getting into your network, because they do not have the special identifier to log in.
How to Turn On Multifactor Authentication
To make use of this important security measure, you would need to go into each of your software applications and search for their MFA settings.
Enable these settings and choose how you want users to be identified. For example—do you want employees to provide a password or do you want them to scan their fingerprint? You need to decide what is safest for your business.
- Keep your software updated
A few years ago, a virus called WannaCry took advantage of Windows computers with outdated software.
Although Windows had already released an update to patch the vulnerability, most users had not installed the update and as a result, they became victims of WannaCry.
Keeping your software updated is a simple way to ensure you are maintaining network security at all times.
Most software applications require updates from time to time. These updates come with important patches that provide additional security against new threats.
Cybercrime is constantly changing, and hackers find new ways to gain access to business networks every day.
By keeping your software up to date, you can ensure you have the latest security patches to prevent new threats.
Tips on Updating Your Software
- Ensure your operating system (Windows or iOS, for example) is set to update automatically.
- Set your software applications to install updates automatically.
- Keep your drivers updated in the Device Manager on your computer.
- Update your firmware
Firmware is software on a device—-like an Internet router—-that gives instructions to its hardware on how to operate.
If it is not updated regularly, it provides hackers with another way to get into your business network.
Recently, a German cybersecurity researcher, Jan Hörsch, was able to get access to a router username and password by exploiting a vulnerability in the router’s firmware.
For this reason, it is important for your business network’s security to implement a security policy that updates your firmware to the latest version quickly to ensure your computer hardware functions properly and to secure your network.
- Implement penetration testing
The most common way that a criminal can get into a building is through a door.
- An authorized user opens the door, and an unauthorized person enters. You may think your employees would not let this happen, but you may be surprised.
- By finding doors in your building that are easy for intruders to open, you can take action to secure these doors and prevent break-ins.
- IT penetration testing is exactly like checking your building’s doors.
Also called pen testing, this involves trying to hack into your own business network to see if you can find any weaknesses.
You can think of this as a network security audit. You are taking stock of all your security measures and how they can be breached.
A penetration test will show you where the security issues are within your network and on your connected devices.
At the end of the test, you will get a report that tells you where all the problem areas are in your system. You will also receive suggestions on where you can make improvements.
You can outsource a network security audit to a cybersecurity company if you want to find out where you can improve and learn which network security best practices to implement.
How to Do a Penetration Test
- A penetration test is not something you would do yourself unless you have advanced cybersecurity knowledge.
- Usually, you would use an online tool to run a penetration test and get a report.
- There are also companies that you can hire to do penetration tests for you.
- Educate your employees
No matter how strong your small business network security is, uninformed employees are the quickest way to run into trouble.
You need to regularly train employees on how to spot potential scams that could lead to attacks.
One type of cyberthreat—called social engineering attack—preys on those who are unaware of cybersecurity. Hackers can send personalized phishing emails to employees to gain access to your network.
An example of a recent social engineering attack was when Chinese plane parts manufacturer FACC, lost nearly $60 million when hackers impersonated company executives and tricked employees into transferring money to them.
If you are serious about securing your business network, train employees so that they know what to look out for.
Key reminders to your employees should include:
- Regularly updating passwords or using a password manager.
- Knowing what the latest phishing emails look like and identifying suspicious activity.
- Reading your security policies.
- Ensuring antimalware software is updated regularly.
- Only using work email for work-related communications.
- Responding in a proactive way to avoid ransomware attacks.
- Following online privacy best practices.
- Being careful when using file-sharing websites.
- Not connecting personal mobile devices to your business network router.
- Keep your data backed up
Regular backups of your data are essential to maintaining network security within your small business.
This is because if you are attacked, having backed-up data can save your business. Backed-up data means:
- You can quickly return to operating normally after a cyberattack.
- You will not have to spend money trying to retrieve lost data.
- Your reputation will not be on the line as you will have backups of your customers’ data.
As a part of your security policies, you should be doing regular backups daily to have a safety net in place if your network is compromised.
You should also have multiple backups, both on-site and off.
The 3-2-1 Data Backup Strategy
This is a useful strategy that many cybersecurity professionals recommend to businesses. Here’s how it works:
- Create one primary backup and two copies of your data.
- Save your backups on two different types of media.
- Keep at least one backup file off-site.
- Remove unused or unnecessary applications
One way cybercriminals can gain access to your network security is through your software.
For this reason, and especially if you start noticing suspicious activity, do a network audit to help you determine which software you no longer need.
You can then remove unused or unnecessary applications that may otherwise become doorways for cybercriminals to hack into your company network.
How to Choose Which Applications to Remove
Ask yourself these questions about each of your software applications:
- How often is this application being used, if at all?
- How many employees currently use this application?
- Does the application have a significant purpose within your company?
Keep Your Business Safe with GoodAccess
At GoodAccess we care about the security of your company network. That is why we have created a modern cloud VPN, specifically designed for small businesses with teams that work remotely.
A cloud VPN provides network access control, meaning only authorized users—-your employees—-can access your company network.
Not only is implementing a VPN part of network security best practices, but it also gives you endpoint security on all your work laptops, computers, and mobile devices.
As a small business owner, network security should always be a concern. With a network breach, you risk a damaged reputation, significant losses, and downtime.
If you are wondering where to start with your small business network security, sign up for a free GoodAccess trial. We include all our features in our free trial, so you can fully experience our cloud VPN.