Small Business

5 Simple Security Tips for Small Businesses

Keep your business' data secure with these practical cyber security tips...
Sean QuinnPosted on Friday, March 24th 2023

Handling personal data is a huge part of running a small business, whether it's customer data needed for processing orders, or your employees' data needed for processing payroll and HR. In the UK and Ireland, your business is bound by the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) which dictate the rules surrounding the collection and processing of any data which can be used to identify a person.

Businesses have a legal responsibility to protect this personal data, and it's good practice to enact security measures to protect against cyber attacks. Failure to keep your customer or employee data safe can harm your reputation, doing long term damage to your business. We have some practical tips that you can implement easily, to keep your personal data secure and prevent any unauthorised access to your systems.

Use a Password Manager

Using a unique password for each of your accounts is the easiest way to protect against unauthorised access to your data; often when hackers compromise a business, the database of emails and passwords is leaked online or sold to the highest bidder. As many people reuse the same email and password across multiple sites, it can be very easy to gain access to multiple user accounts across many websites, just from one data leak.

It would be impossible to create a secure password (meaning one which isn't easily guessed and doesn't follow an easily recognised pattern) for every single service you use online - and writing them down on sticky notes attached to your monitor is also a security no-go. Utilising a password manager means all of your unique passwords are securely saved, without you needing to remember them.

Keep your Devices Secure

When implementing security measures in their business, many people fail to consider physical security measures. A simple way to ensure data security is to keep your physical devices safely stored. Ensuring your premises is secure at the end of the day by installing security measures like door lock access codes can not only protect your physical assets from theft, but it acts as a data protection mechanism too.

Another physical security measure is to ensure computers and laptops are always locked whenever employees leave their desk, especially if they are working remotely from a public place. Depending on the sensitivity of the data your business handles, you might even consider installing privacy covers on laptop screens, to prevent prying eyes in public.

Enable Two-Factor Authentication

As well as using unique passwords, you can add an extra level of security to your logins by enabling two-factor authentication. In the event your password and account details are compromised, an authentication code (either sent to your mobile number or a secure authentication app) will still be required in order to access your account.

You can enable two-factor authentication on your TimeKeeper account to secure your employees' data by following the guide here.

Stay Updated

Keeping your operating systems and standalone apps up to date is also important to protect against vulnerabilities. New updates will not only include bug fixes and improvements, but also contain patches for any security flaws that have been identified. If you provide devices to employees to use for work purposes, it's a good idea to turn on automatic updates, so that all of your company's devices remain up to date.

A vulnerability in Apple's OS which was discovered (and quickly fixed) in August 2022 gave those with nefarious intent the ability to take control of an entire device; this weakness was actively used by spyware companies and government institutions to hack devices before they were updated.

Educate your Employees

The majority of successful attacks occur due to an employee error; modern phishing scams can be very hard to detect, and rely on creating a sense of urgency which forces employees to compromise their systems without realising it. Common examples include phishing emails which appear to come from a company director, or spoofed websites which prompt an employee to enter in their login details.

Training your employees to check the domain an email came from, and check where the links in emails really direct to, can be a simple way to avoid falling for such scams. Employee training should be frequent, as the techniques used by hackers evolve over time as more companies become aware of their tactics.

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