Attempts to steal data and disrupt systems define cyber threats. In 2022, the United States witnessed 1,802 data breaches, exposing over 422.14 million sensitive records (Statista). Awareness of cyberattacks has grown, leading individuals and businesses to prioritize device and data protection. In response, cybercriminals have escalated their efforts. The number, complexity, and sophistication of cyber threats have all increased.

Organizations often fear the unknown regarding cyber threats. Taking precautions after a breach is discovered may prove too late. PayPal CEO, Dan Schulman, emphasizes that in the cyber community, there are two types of companies: those who have been hacked and those who are unaware they’ve been hacked. For this reason, digital protection becomes essential to avoid falling into this sad statistic. A firewall is a good cybersecurity tool, but not the only one.

#1 Use multifactor authentication

Multi Factor authentication (MFA) can be mildly annoying, especially when you have to get up to grab your phone in another room just to log into an account. However, dealing with a data breach is far more aggravating.

MFA is similar to adding a deadbolt lock to your doorknob. It requires a unique and time-sensitive code to be entered after your credentials, the code can be sent to your phone number or email address.

Implementing this additional layer of authentication is a cost-effective way to significantly reduce the risk of a breach. Many project and workspace management programs offer MFA capabilities for free, but there are also affordable third-party options available.

#2 Timely update

Most individuals often overlook the manual update requirement of software and systems due to their familiarity with automatic updates commonly found in PCs and laptops. However, certain software, such as Wi-Fi router firmware, necessitates manual updating. These updates encompass critical security patches that play a vital role in combating cyber threats.

Failing to install these patches exposes both the router and the devices connected to it to potential vulnerabilities. Therefore, businesses must prioritize firmware upgrades for their wireless routers, as well as ensure all workplace devices like printers and scanners are up to date.

#3 Use VPNs

VPN enables employees to securely access their company’s network while working remotely or traveling. If you install a VPN for Mac, all connections from this device will be encrypted and go through a remote server. There are also VPN apps for other devices. The same VeePN has encryption, and protection against phishing, viruses, DDoS attacks, DNS and IP leaks, and other technologies. Consequently, they offer an extra layer of security when employees use their home wireless network, a network in a different location, or public internet access points such as cafes or restaurants.

#4 Make backups regularly

Even in today’s era of cloud storage and backup, backing up files remains crucial for data protection. According to the National Cybersecurity Alliance, small businesses are considering whether to entrust their data to AWS, Microsoft Azure, or Google, relying on these companies for backups. However, it’s not a bad idea to store offline data copies, which can also lead to long-term cost savings.

#5 Separate personal and business accounts

Small business owners and freelance contractors often use personal devices to manage their business accounts. This means they act as their IT department and must ensure that a breach of a personal account does not compromise more sensitive data, such as client, payment, or customer information.

To maximize security, it is best to keep personal and business accounts separate. Dashlane’s Spaces feature makes it easy for users to switch between Personal and Business Spaces, preventing any overlap in logins or single sign-on (SSO) permissions.

#6 Pay attention to employee training

82% of data breaches occur due to employee errors. To prevent your employees from falling victim to such incidents, it is crucial to offer cybersecurity awareness training. Train your teams to recognize and avoid phishing attacks, as Deloitte estimates that phishing accounts for approximately 90% of data breaches. Additionally, emphasizes the importance of creating strong passwords and evaluating the safety of websites and apps.

To enhance your employees’ knowledge of cybersecurity best practices, utilize the online toolkit. One of them was developed by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the primary sponsor of Cybersecurity Awareness Month.