If you pay much attention to the news, you’ll find that organizations of all sizes fall prey to security breaches that threaten their reputations and compromise sensitive data.

For small businesses, the odds of experiencing security breaches are even higher, given that many smaller organizations lack in-house IT departments, and may not have an in-depth understanding of current small business security threats and how best to address them.

To ensure your business and its data remains safe, try implementing the following security guidelines that don’t even require in-house IT support, but simply a willingness to adhere to a few commonsense practices.

Update Early and Often

Keeping your software updated is one of the easiest measures you can take to keep your network and data secure. Promptly respond to software update alerts, or, to make things even easier on yourself, adjust your settings to install automatic updates. Additionally, anti-malware software from a reputable vendor will provide an added layer of protection, provided you keep that updated as well.

Using newer versions of Internet browsers and operating systems, which generally have the latest security features built-in, will also keep your network more secure. For example, Internet Explorer 9 includes a Smart Screen Filter that helps block malware, as well as a Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) filter that protects users from website vulnerabilities.

Educate Employees

Just as you keep employees updated on new office policies, HR news, etc., keep them informed of safe computing practices, too. If you see something in the news about a new security threat that you feel is pertinent to your business, let your employees know.

Always stress to employees the basics of safe computing, which include not clicking on suspicious links and informing company leadership immediately should they detect any threats to your business’ digital security. Also, mandate the use of strong passwords that are regularly changed.

Don’t Underestimate the Power of Prevention

In many instances, you can keep security breaches from ever happening in the first place by taking preventative measures. Using “least privilege,” for example, heightens security by limiting the functions employees have on their PCs to job-related tasks only.

Also, require that employees only use browsers that include sufficient protection features; this reduces the risk of employees spending time on compromised websites. Finally, consider encrypting data on all computers and storage devices. Doing so will shield business information from unwanted users should the loss or theft of computing devices occur.

Leverage Free Resources

Be on the lookout for free security tools and resources from reputable vendors. Microsoft Security Essentials offers free, anti-virus protection to businesses and consumers. Additionally, Microsoft publishes its Security Intelligence Report twice a year, which provides free analysis of the security threat landscape, as well as guidelines for protection.

Image credit: Armin