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Ask SCORE: Cybersecurity tips to protect your small business

Ask SCORE: Cybersecurity tips to protect your small business

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QUESTION: I am concerned with the recent rash of cybertheft and ransomware activity. What can a small business with limited resources do to protect itself?

ANSWER: The Benjamin Franklin axiom “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is as true today as it was then.

Consider the following key cybersecurity tips to protect your small business. Once you’ve assessed where you stand in terms of cybersecurity protection, you can get started on fixing your weakest links. You should create a strategy that you can implement in a worst-case scenario to minimize losses as much as possible.

Here are the tips:

1. Your employees are the first line of defense in protecting your business from cyberthreats.

Educate them regarding basic security practices, including strong computer passwords that should be changed every three months.

Also, educate them about never opening unfamiliar attachments. Make sure a separate user account is created for each employee.

2. Employees should be given access only to the specific data systems that they need to perform their jobs.

3. Administrative privileges should only be given to trusted IT staff and key personnel, and no one should be allowed to install software without permission.

4. Consider multifactor authentication that requires additional information beyond a password to gain entry.

5. Backup important files daily and store them offsite or in the cloud.

6. Installing the latest firewall security software, web browser and operating system is the best defense against viruses, malware and other online threats. Run a scan after each update with anti-virus software.

7. If your employees work from home, ensure that their home system is protected by a firewall and the latest security software.

8. Make sure your Wi-Fi networks are secure, encrypted and hidden. Make sure your router does not broadcast the network name. This is important for both office and work from home computers.

9. If you use a laptop computer, make sure it is safely stored when not in use, as it is an easy theft target.

10. Talk to your insurance agent about cyberliability insurance. This coverage can be added to a business owner’s policy or commercial liability policy.

It will protect your business assets by covering your legal defense costs, as well as any settlements or judgments if you are sued. The insurance also may cover public relations and other expenses you may incur to salvage your reputation and recover from the incident.

Gray Poehler is a volunteer with the Richmond Chapter of SCORE, Counselors to America’s Small Business. To ask a question or request free and confidential business counseling, go to Learn more about SCORE’s workshops on the website or by calling (804) 350-3569.


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