Internet security

Sponsored by Microsoft


By Rieva Lesonsky

Cyberattacks on businesses are on the rise—and small businesses are not immune. In fact, some 60 percent of all cyberattacks target small businesses, according to data from Travelers Insurance. As large businesses step up their cybersecurity measures, small businesses are becoming more attractive targets for hackers, who often use automated methods to systematically probe small companies’ vulnerabilities until they find a weakness. How can you safeguard your business from cybercriminals?

Start with the basics. Run a firewall, install antivirus software, and keep all of your business software up-to-date. Explain key cybersecurity risks to your employees and train them in common-sense security tactics such as using caution when opening email or attachments from unfamiliar senders, creating strong passwords and not sharing passwords. Backing up your important data and securing it offsite will ensure your business has recourse if a cybercriminal does strike.

Take it one step further by choosing and using business software that has security built in, such as Windows 10. Its Windows Hello & Microsoft Passport feature enables you to replace passwords with biometric authentication such as face, iris or fingerprint identification for greater security. Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection provides a new layer of protection by detecting, assessing and responding to attacks on your network or devices immediately. And Microsoft BitLocker encrypts all data stored on the Windows operating system, ensuring that even if the computer or mobile device is stolen, the data stored on it remains secure.

Cloud computing can also provide greater cybersecurity for your business. By leveraging cloud services such Office 365, you can benefit from the cloud vendor’s security expertise. Cloud updates happen automatically, so you never have to worry about vulnerabilities caused by outdated technology exposing your business to security risks. You also eliminate the headaches of trying to keep abreast of the latest cyberthreats yourself. And because your data stays safe without an investment in in-house IT staff, you save money while still protecting your data.

Sharing data in the cloud makes your business more efficient—but to ensure that sharing is safe, it’s critical to choose the right cloud solution. Look for a product such as Office 365 that incorporates advanced security tools to safeguard your business data and communications. OneNote offers password protection, while SharePoint Online protects your documents and media files from public viewing by default, giving you built-in privacy for sensitive data. Outlook provides a variety of security safeguards, including automatically signing you in with a secure HTTPS connection that encrypts your communications, and indicating via yellow or red security bars when an email is suspicious.  Skype for Business encrypts IMs, calls and presentations conducted over Skype, even if you’re using a public Wi-Fi network. All of these solutions give you complete control over who can access your data.


Need more help developing a plan to protect your business? Take Microsoft’s free Cyber Security IQ Quiz  to test your knowledge of risks and get insights into how to prevent an attack.