Preventing a data breach: 6 best tips for SMEs

Everyone knows that data breaches are becoming more common. Whether it’s coming from a hacker in another country or a lone wolf down the block, malicious threats are always on the prowl to steal data. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) need to remain vigilant.

Cybercrime is said to be rated by SMEs as the 5th biggest risk to their business, and although we may feel confident that our organisation is secure, we can never be too careful. There are many things that SMEs can do to reduce the risk of a breach and protect their customer’s confidential information.

What are the 6 best practices SMEs can do? Pick up a pen because here they are!

1. A culture of cyber security awareness

The beauty of cyber security awareness is that it doesn’t cost the world to implement. Information security is one of the pillars of information technology (IT) infrastructures. Everyone – from the CEO to marketing team members – should understand the importance of the individual information security measures the company is using and the risks of not taking precautions.

With that being said, fostering a culture of cyber security awareness isn’t about making everything sound like the latest horror movie. To avoid that, we can take a positive and constructive approach that empowers our teams and makes data security the best thing since Nutella on toast. We can do this by investing in cyber security awareness training and educational workshops on cyber security that provide employees with the space to learn, ask questions, and test themselves.

2. Audits and risk assessments

We have to remember that information security and protecting our company’s devices is not just a sprint. It’s a marathon, a voyage to Antarctica, and a spaceship to Mars all rolled into one. Security solutions (especially the technical kind) don’t last forever, and SMEs need to assess and update their response plans and security framework regularly.  

Risk assessments and audits give SMEs opportunities to evaluate their IT systems, identify their current security status, and determine which malicious threats are most likely to impact them. The ultimate goal is to make sure that the organisation is prepared for any cyber attack and that its risk mitigation and data privacy processes are optimised.  

3. Access control measures

Australia is a nation of busy bees with over 13 million people employed. And when you take into account that SMEs “make up 99.8 per cent of all Australian businesses”,  it’s no wonder that system security is a top priority. Access control measures are an essential part of any security model, and they enable SMEs to regulate who can access what information based on pre-established policies (a nifty tool to have in any data breach protection plan). 

Some common examples of access control solutions include:

4. Secure Access Service Edge (SASE)

Okay, this is where it gets juicier than a well-kept secret. SASE is a cloud-based service that provides a secure, scalable, and cost-effective way to incorporate endpoint management into operations. 

To cut a long, technical story short, SASE supports organisations with solutions including:

Many SMEs operate according to hybrid arrangements where employees divide their time between the office and another location. This is great for productivity, but it can be a little risky if we’re talking about cyber security and how to prevent a data breach. SASE is a secure way to manage endpoint security and access control, regardless of where employees are working.

5. Network monitoring solutions

Our organisation’s IT systems are like veggie patches in the middle of Spring. We use them to provide us with value, but there are always insects (in this case, malicious actors) scuttling around, waiting for the chance to chow down on some produce. SME owners and their teams need to be on the lookout for these threats.

Network monitoring solutions are security tools that help organisations detect and respond to cyber threats as they come into contact with networks. It also allows us to monitor network activity to make sure that everything is running as it should. If anything seems off, we can find out about it in real time.

6. Cyber security services

Hear us out. Preventing a data breach takes a few things: time, relevant expertise, resources, and coffee. There’re plenty of methods SMEs can use to help prevent a data breach, but sometimes, outsourcing cyber security efforts to a professional can make all the difference between a system breach and optimised data protection.

Cyber security service providers can help SMEs protect their data and networks from cyber threats. Their staff are experienced digital security specialists that customise their services to ensure they match the needs of SMEs. Specifically, security service providers can offer training, long-term support, and expert advice to help SMEs prevent breaches and safeguard their reputations.

With Atarix, information security has never been more efficient

The takeaway of the day: data breaches can happen to any business at any time. Prevention is better than correction, and SMEs wanting to grow their services and influence will need to invest in precautions that can help them avoid data breaches.

That’s why we’re here! At Atarix, our managed IT security services cater to SMEs no matter their industry. Our team of cyber safety experts can help any business build a strong security foundation, leverage the benefits of cloud-enabled security, and create highly productive institutions that demonstrate data privacy best practices in the workplace.