When it comes to protecting your network, the size of your business does not matter. Small businesses are just as vulnerable to hacking as giant corporations. Perhaps even more so, because smaller businesses tend to have less stringent security, making them far more vulnerable to attack by less experienced hackers.
Even the smallest of businesses need to find some way of developing good security protocols that fit into their budget and needs. The good news is, there are a wide variety of inexpensive and even free services available that can help keep your network secure and protected. Here are some great security tools for small businesses.
1. Qualys Scan
Qualys Scan is a free service that will scan your entire network in order to determine potential vulnerabilities. Once the scan has detected where you are most vulnerable it will recommend the patches needed to fix them. In addition, once Qualys Scan has finished scanning your entire system, it will generate a detailed report that can tell you where you are most at risk for malware infections and other digital threats.
StaySafeOnline.org is run by the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA). They offer a national program that offers a wide variety of different tools and resources to help small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) learn to better protect their data. The program consists of a series of live, interactive workshops that help educate even the most non-technologically inclined business owners about internet security based on the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Cybersecurity Framework.
3. Hotspot Shield
While public Wi-Fi networks can be a lifesaver, they can also represent a significant security breach. Hotsphot shield allows you to create a private and encrypted connection whenever you are using public WiFi networks, which helps keep all of your most sensitive business data safe and secure. This is particularly important if you log into various business accounts while traveling or away from the secure network at your office. Hotsphot shield will also mask your IP address, which gives you the freedom to browse anonymously and will also block a wide range of malware from wreaking havoc with your business computer.
4. Tails OS
Tails is a live operating system that uses state-of-the-art cryptography tools to encrypt files e-mails and instant messages. You can you can start it on almost any computer from a USB stick or a DVD and it leaves no evidence behind on any computer you are using, unless you specifically command it to. Tails OS forces all connections to go through the Tor network, which anonymizes your internet use for better safety and security.
Boxcryptor allows you to encrypt files in the cloud, keeping them safe and secure, no matter what service you use. Whether you use Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive or others, you can add an additional layer of security by encrypting any files stored on any type of cloud service.
6. Open DNS
Open DNS is a program that gives you massive control over your network for a minuscule price. To start with, Open DNS will automatically restrict access to certain domains that have been flagged as being suspicious as well as allowing you to manually set filters to block certain sites or types of sites. Don't want employees browsing social media all day? No problem. You can set a filter to block it from use. In addition, with Open DNS, you can access up to a year's worth of internet statistics for your network so you can see what has been happening while you are away or go back and investigate long-term activity.
ProtonMail is an e-mail app with advanced focus on privacy and security. Unlike many encryption services that only encrypt e-mails when they leave a server to go to their destination, ProtonMail offers end-to-end encryption, which means your e-mail is encrypted before it ever even reaches the ProtonMail servers. In addition, logging into ProtonMail offers a much higher degree of security, including the use of two separate passwords.
8. HTTPS Everywhere
HTTPS Everywhere is a browser extension that works on many of the most popular web browsers, including Firefox, Chrome and Opera. While many websites may offer some limited access to encryption via HTTPS protocols, when there are issues, they often default back to an unencrypted HTTP or backlink to an unencrypted site without you ever being aware of it. HTTPS Everywhere keeps your data safe and secure by rewriting these requests to ensure they make a direct link to HTTPS sites, ensuring you make the most secure connections every time.
Final Word Protecting your data as well as that of your clients and consumers is of utmost importance. It also doesn't have to be prohibitively expensive for small businesses. Many of these sites offer free services or extremely economical paid ones. There are a number of watchdog organizations as well as even financial institutions that have a vested interest in making sure that even the smallest of businesses have access to secure data systems. Do yourself and your consumers a favor by investigating some of the ways you can secure their data today!