Safer Internet Day is a global event that promotes the safe and responsible use of the internet. It has been observed annually for 20 years now, highlighting the dangers of what lurks online, and the importance of implementing active protection and awareness strategies.
As a small business in South Africa, having sound measures in place to protect your systems from unauthorised access and cyber threats should always be a top priority. To keep your business safe online, here are seven actionable tips you can start implementing:
Tip #1 – Educate Your Employees
One of the most important steps in keeping your small business safe online is educating your employees about safe internet use. Your employees may not be aware of the potential dangers that come with using the internet for work purposes – as well as the dangers of using work devices for personal use.
Here’s what you can do:
- Provide training: Use Safer Internet Day as an opportunity to offer training sessions on internet safety, online threats, and how to avoid them.
- Create guidelines: Develop a set of actionable guidelines for employees to follow when using the internet for work purposes. This should include information on how to handle sensitive information and what to do in case of a cyberattack.
- Lead by example: Encourage employees to adopt safe online practices by setting a positive example in the business, such as regularly backing up important data by the 3-2-1 backup rule.
Tip #2 – Ensure browser and operating system software is up to date
Data breaches can be devastating for businesses, and one of the leading causes of these breaches is outdated software. Outdated software often has critical vulnerabilities that cybercriminals easily exploit via the internet, leading to data loss and other security incidents. To ensure your small business is protected, follow these tips:
- Keep software updated: Make sure that all software, including web browsers and operating systems, are regularly updated to the latest version. Regular updates help to address critical vulnerabilities, improve performance, and ensure that your business is protected from cyber threats.
- Avoid outdated software: If a software vendor is not releasing further updates, it may be wise to avoid using their products. For example, Internet Explorer and Windows 7.
- Automate updates: Consider setting up automatic updates for your software to ensure you’re always running the latest version. This helps to ensure you don’t miss important security patches.
Tip #3 – Beware on Public Wi-Fi
With more employees working remotely, the use of public Wi-Fi has become increasingly common. However, public Wi-Fi networks can be a major security risk, as they often lack the proper security measures to protect your data.
Employees should avoid conducting sensitive business tasks, such as accessing confidential business data, viewing bank statements, or entering passwords, on public Wi-Fi networks. Working in busy areas like coffee shops, hotel lobbies, and airports also carry the risk of shoulder surfing.
Furthermore, always use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) when connecting to public Wi-Fi. VPNs encrypt your internet traffic, making it more difficult for cybercriminals to intercept and steal your data as it travels over the network.
Tip #4 – Wherever Possible, Enable MFA / 2FA for Online Accounts
Multi-factor Authentication (MFA) / Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) is an extra layer of security for online accounts. It requires users to provide two forms of identification, such as a password and a unique code sent to their phone via SMS, before being able to access their account. Enabling 2FA for online accounts can help to protect your business from cyber threats and keep your data secure.
Tip #5 – Invest in Internet Security Software
The market offers various options such as antivirus, anti-malware, and firewalls, each providing varying degrees of protection.
- Antivirus software is crucial in shielding your business from harmful viruses and malicious software that could compromise your computer and steal valuable data.
- Anti-malware software is specifically designed to safeguard your system from malware, and harmful software that could harm your computer.
- Firewalls play a critical role in ensuring the security of your network by controlling the flow of data between your system and the internet. They help prevent unauthorized access to your network and secure your data from cybercriminals.
By incorporating a combination of antivirus, anti-malware, and firewall software, you can bolster the security of your small business and keep your data protected from online threats.
Tip #6 – Run Employee Monitoring Software
Employee monitoring software provides valuable insights into the performance of your employees, helping you to not only better manage your workforce and improve productivity, but identify how and on what websites employees spend their time online.
For example, are your employees browsing the dark web, torrent websites, illegal movie streaming, flash video games, bitcoin lotteries, spoofed login pages, and the like on work devices?
Websites and online services like these are riddled with major security threats and spyware, including ransomware. Employee monitoring software allows you to remotely detect risky internet behaviour in your company, ideally before disaster strikes.
Tip # 7 – Install Adblockers on Web Browsers
Adblockers are browser extensions that block adverts from appearing on websites. Installing adblockers on your employees’ web browsers can help protect your business from malicious ads that can be used to spread malware and viruses.
- Protect from malware: Malicious ads are often used to spread malware and viruses that can harm your computer and steal your data. Adblockers can help to protect your business from these threats by blocking these ads from appearing on websites.
- Improve browsing experience: Adblockers can also improve the browsing experience for your employees by removing distracting and irrelevant ads from websites. This can help to increase productivity and reduce the risk of employees visiting malicious or futile websites.