Most small businesses can't operate without the help of devices, whether it's smartphones and tablets, point-of-sale systems, or IoT-powered technology. These tools undoubtedly have their benefits, allowing business owners to collect valuable customer data, track sales, and monitor operations without being onsite. But they also pose a significant challenge: they can't typically utilize device-based security software. That means these connected devices need to be protected at the network level. The problem is that many small businesses—especially service businesses like coffee shops, salons, and barbershops—don't prioritize high-level cyber-security. As a 2020 study from BullGuard found, almost half of small businesses lack any type of cyber-security defense plan and 23% of small businesses don't use any endpoint security mechanisms. As a result, their networks are left vulnerable to potential threats that customers or employees might bring in through their personal devices. And for very small businesses, one significant breach of security could be the difference between thriving and having to close down your entire operation altogether. According to 2020 research from IBM and the Ponemon Institute, an insider-related cyber incident can cost small organizations an average of $7.68 million. Terrifying, right? Here's what you can do to protect your network from cyber-security threats while still enjoying all those wonderful benefits that your connected devices offer.
Understand your network vulnerabilities
Connected devices are susceptible to a range of cyber-security risks. While computers can be protected by anti-virus software, many smart devices have limited space for extra programming, leaving your precious information at risk of being accessed, leaked, stolen, or manipulated. Now, that doesn't just mean a hacker can find out your password and username. If they tap into a smart padlock, for instance, they can physically open or shut down your retail location. They can even take over a robotic vacuum cleaner and access video footage from your office or shop. That's why it's so important to be aware of your network vulnerabilities. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, the most common cyber-security threats include:
- Malware: This is malicious software that can be uploaded to damage or a device or network.
- Viruses: These harmful programs can essentially disable and exploit connected devices, opening up access to hackers.
- Ransomware: This is a type of malware that prevents a network owner from accessing their device or information until they pay a ransom fee.
- Phishing: This kind of cyberattack is often initiated via spam emails or links, with the end goal of spreading malware or tapping into personal or financial data.
Proactively protect your business from cyber threats
Yes, the proliferation of connected devices makes your business network even more vulnerable to threats. But that doesn't mean you need to stop using them—especially if they're essential to helping your business run smoothly. It just means you need to boost your cyber-security capabilities so you know you're always protected. You can make that happen with these solutions.
1. Make sure you're using a secure WiFi router
Start with the heart of your digital network: your router. A secure router should be protected with advanced encryption technology like WPA2 or WPA3. It should also automatically install updates, so every device in your business is guaranteed to maintain a secure, high-quality connection without disruption or threat of interference.
2. Invest in a password manager
This may seem like low-hanging fruit, but it's an important step in keeping your business protected. Use a password manager to keep track of your login information across platforms and devices, and ensure all of your passwords are updated for optimum strength.
3. Upgrade to advanced cyber-security for your whole network
The smallest businesses deserve enterprise-grade network protection. That's why WorkPass—a suite of smart services built just for small businesses—includes Shield, an AI-based, cyber-security feature that proactively protects all of your devices and sensitive information from inbound threats. It also isolates your business from outside threats with dedicated networks for business operations, employees, and guests. Here are a few more ways an advanced cyber-security setup like WorkPass can help keep your business safe:
- See and manage a list of blocked threats in real time.
- Get a bird's-eye view of the devices guests and employees are using on your network.
- Protect connected devices from threats like malware, ransomware, phishing, viruses, and spam.
In short, WorkPass does the heavy lifting so you can run your business without missing a beat.