Cyber security for small businesses: How to improve your online security

Cyber security for small businesses: How to improve your online security
Avast Business
Avast Business
Keeping businesses cyber secure

Posted: Tue 20th Jul 2021

Cyber security is the combination of tools, technologies, and practices used to protect computers, networks, devices and data from unauthorised access or attack.

As cyber attacks become increasingly complex, threats can impact businesses, freelancers, and individuals alike. The number of attacks is also on the rise – in the last five years alone, cyber attacks have increased by 67%.

The keys to effective cyber security are a proactive approach and multiple layers of defence. To get you started, here are some simple steps you can take to instantly improve your cyber security posture.

Install updates

Software vendors release updates and patches to fix vulnerabilities when they discover them, but this also makes the vulnerability known to cyber criminals who begin working to exploit it.

This race against the clock makes it critical to regularly check for updates for your operating systems and other trusted software and install them as soon as possible.

Safeguard passwords and use multi-factor authentication

Some hackers use a technique called brute-forcing, where they attempt to gain access to your accounts by rapidly trying thousands of possible passwords. The stronger your password, the less likely they are to succeed.

To add an extra layer of security, you should use multi-factor authentication (MFA), which requires two or more factors of authentication to access a system. These might include:

  • passwords

  • PINs

  • facial or voice recognition

  • fingerprints

  • phone notifications

You should use a different password for every account, website, or application you access. While this might not seem feasible, a password manager can help.

This handy tool encrypts and stores each of your passwords, allowing you to easily access them across all of your devices. You can also use it to generate random, secure passwords.

Invest in training and education

Cyber criminals are becoming increasingly sophisticated, which means security cannot be a 'set and forget' solution. Educate yourself and your staff on the latest threats and security best practices, such as avoiding suspicious email attachments.

The Cyber Essentials scheme is a government-backed, industry-supported scheme to help organisations protect themselves against common online threats.

Keep in mind that people are often the weakest link in successful cyber attacks – those with an understanding of the basics of cyber security will be better equipped to protect themselves and the company they work for.

Use trusted antivirus software

Antivirus software will protect you against a variety of threats. Its primary role is to proactively block, detect and remove cyber threats like viruses, malware, and ransomware before they can cause any harm.

A comprehensive package should also include:

  • anti-spam and anti-phishing protection

  • a firewall

  • browsing protection

Why is cyber security important?

The consequences of a successful cyber attack can be costly. For small businesses in the UK, the average financial cost of a security breach in 2020/2021 was £3,110 (US $4,185), while for medium and large firms, the cost was significantly higher.

Regulatory requirements are also evolving, with the aim of holding organisations more accountable for protecting the data in their care. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) gives regulators the power to fine organisations up to €20 million (US $24 million), or 4% of their annual global turnover, for violations.

Beyond the direct cost of an attack, your business could experience reputational damage and a loss of credibility among current and potential customers. Altogether, these growing risks mean that when storing and sharing data and sensitive information online, it’s important to keep your cyber security knowledge up to date and maintain the right level of protection.


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About Avast Business

Avast Business provides simple yet powerful security solutions for SMBs and IT service providers. Backed by one of the largest, most globally dispersed threat detection networks, the Avast Business security portfolio makes it easy and affordable to secure, manage, and monitor business devices.

The result is superior protection that businesses can count on. For more information about our managed services and cybersecurity solutions, visit


Relevant resources

How to secure your online business

A cyber security checklist for small businesses

Lunch and Learn: Essential cyber security tips for small businesses

Avast Business
Avast Business
Keeping businesses cyber secure

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