How to Ensure Your Business is Secure Online

The statistics for cybercrime, online fraud, and data theft make for disturbing reading. It is estimated that the cost to each business is around $5,000 per year, with around a third of all small business members falling victim to online crimes such as malware infections, hacking attacks or full-on data breaches. 

For the small-to medium-sized-business (SMB) owner especially, the impact of such attacks go beyond the immediate financial loss and disruption to the daily working schedule – there’s the loss of reputation and customer trust to factor in, too. Despite this, it’s SMBs that have the most difficulty finding affordable and doable security measures. This can lead to substandard protection or, worse still, no security at all. 

To help solve the problem, here are a few simple ways to make your business more secure. 

Know Your Data 

Not all data is equal. The starting point for any business must be understanding what data is business-critical or sensitive. You must identify how it’s used and where it’s stored. The most basic of audits can be accomplished just by considering what might happen if a breach were to occur and data, such as financial data, or employee or customer records, was compromised. 

Once you understand the likely effect on your business – and there can be multiple “what if” scenarios, depending on the nature of the incident – you’ll have a blueprint for your business-impact levels. 

High-risk data needs to be appropriately secured, and you can devote more of your resources and money to ensuring it is. Just note that your job doesn’t stop there and that you can’t ignore data that you’ve classified as less risky; rather, you must prioritize your security efforts accordingly. 

Manage your passwords the easy way 

Passwords are at the core of every security policy, yet ensuring that they’re secure and enforced isn’t easy. Consumers have services such as LastPass to help generate and manage their passwords, but should a business use password managers? 

LastPass and other such services have enterprise versions available at a low cost per user. These offer all the basic secure-password-generation options you’d expect, with a variety of business-orientated extras. For example, you can set company-wide minimum password standards to meet your policy requirements, or apply customized policies to restrict access to specific devices, groups or locations. 

Then there’s Active Directory (AD) / Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) integration. This can import existing AD profiles, automate reporting tools to highlight weaknesses in the password security chain, and offers real-time syncing across devices to help with the rise of the Bring Your Own Device culture. It can be protected by a master password, which can be reset or revoked by the administrator. 


Everyone in your business must understand company security policy and know why it’s important. Education doesn’t need to be expensive: it can be integrated easily into the staff-induction process, and you could consider six-monthly refreshers to bring existing employees up to speed with any changes – including threats of which they should be aware. Only an hour is needed every now and then to sit with an employee to explain how security applies to their particular role and to answer any questions. Remember, education and communication are just as important tools against cybercrime as the computer technology you use to defend your data. 

However, to be effective, it has to be implemented from the bottom up and the top down – that is, everyone from the CEO to the summer temp needs to be on board if a security policy is to work. That doesn’t mean the same training should be given to all; the best training is tailored to the specific role of the employee and the threats they may encounter.

Be Prepared 

An integral part of any small-business IT security strategy is a formal document that goes into proper detail – and is then kept updated, rather than stuffed in a drawer and forgotten about. It may sound tedious, but you must plan not only how to protect your data and resources, but also what to do in the event that things go wrong. 

Although many smaller businesses assume such an IT security policy is something that only large enterprises require, they’re wrong; every business, including the smallest SMB, can benefit from implementing a security policy - if you think you would benefit from the experience of an external risk management company rather than doing it in-house, check out a company such as, as they will be better equipped at identifying risk. The trick is to understand that it’s more than just a formal document to be filed away gathering dust; it should be seen as a dynamic device to help you understand what data security means to the business. You can then build a structured response to suit your needs. Think of it as a commitment to protect all the data you create and use and an absolutely integral part of your business processes. 

The best IT security policy will detail not only how to protect your data but also how to react when things go awry. Setting out an incident-response strategy when you have a calm head is far better than trying to put things right in the heat of the moment. 

Use The Cloud

The cloud can be a genuinely secure choice for most small businesses. In particular, it makes sense if your company doesn’t have the time or knowledge to be on top of all the security issues, and the updates and implementations it needs, because a good cloud service provider (CSP) does have time. 

Don’t be scared of the cloud for data storage, since a reputable CSP will be more proactive than you at maintaining software patches and implementing security – in order to survive, CSPs have to take security seriously. What’s more, they can do so at less cost to your bottom line than you can. The anytime/anywhere nature of cloud access even provides a good disaster-recovery route for smaller businesses.

I hope you enjoyed this article about how to maximize your company's online security and protect your valuable data.

Interested in more articles about data protection and cybersec?

Read My Posts:

- 4 Tips To Secure Your Business Data

 - Understanding The Impact of Ransomware On SMBs

Published by Michael J Schiemer
Owner of Bootstrap Business
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