In an increasingly virtual world, data theft and security violations are major headaches for businesses. According to a Fundera report, almost half of cyber-attacks are targeted towards small businesses, and 60% of small companies that have been at the receiving end of an attack go out of business in under 6 months. 

SMBs operating in 2021 need to reimagine the way they handle data privacy and IT security. Below are some fundamental points that can help small businesses roll out their privacy and security infrastructures on the right note. 

1) Establish a security-first culture 

An improved security ecosystem comes alive not with the machines but with the humans interacting with them. Small businesses need to train the employees and create a security-first culture within their virtual workforce. This includes however is not limited to creating and safely storing strong passwords, gathering and managing customer data, and exercising best practices in payment gateways. 

Software features like the BitLocker in Microsoft Office 365 encrypts data sharing and the Advanced Threat Protection detects malicious emails and cyberattacks. Regardless, the employees using the software must be aware of the consequences of data thefts.

2) Create a safe network 

Creating an intranet built on safety, security and measurable protection metrics can help small businesses grow exponentially without fearing data loss. It all starts with using a virtual private network (VPN) and a privacy-focused browser like Microsoft Edge that comes with ad blocker extensions. Moreover, leveraging a system-wide antivirus such as Microsoft defender will help companies block out virus and malware attacks in the workspace.

Another crucial security feature is 2-factor authentication (2FA) or as Microsoft likes to call, multi-factor authentication (MFA). The two-step verification process neutralizes potential data leaks and strengthens login and payment procedures. 

3) Protect your devices 

Small businesses are wholeheartedly expanding device portfolios with “bring your own device” (BYOD) programs. BYOD increases brand loyalty by giving employees freedom and flexibility. But it also risks data loss as most companies fail to extend company security policies to these devices. With the rise of mobile devices and wearables, hackers are finding new ways to exploit loopholes. That’s why small businesses need to implement mobile device management (MDM) that creates secure app and device ecosystems ready to be used within the company.

4) Develop a strong data backup and recovery system

Small companies that invest in robust database backup and recovery systems are less likely to face cyberattacks. By adopting cloud-based infrastructure, companies can seamlessly update and backup core data, thereby mitigating the damage of a cyberattack. Cloud IaaS like Microsoft Office 365 are ideal for a secure backup and recovery.

5) Maintain a security policy 

Small businesses should have documented data privacy and security policies to fall back to during a crisis. Microsoft 365 comes with a host of features that prevents policy misuse while following protective frameworks like GDPR. Working with industry and state-specific data privacy laws not only helps in smooth business operations but also ensures tighter security.