Cybersecurity in 2024: Top 7 Safeguards for Small Businesses

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Many small business owners consider cybersecurity an afterthought. They think cyber criminals won’t target them because they have bigger fish to fry.

However, big fish typically have more robust security systems because they have more capital to invest in cybersecurity. Hackers’ attempts to breach their networks and connected devices are often futile.

Small businesses that don’t invest in cybersecurity are easier targets. Breaching into many unprotected systems could bring as high rewards as hacking one prominent organization. The only difference? It’s a walk in the park, even for novice hackers.

Therefore, implement the following safeguards to upgrade your cybersecurity and protect your small business in 2024.

1. Cybersecurity Awareness Training

People in your organization are your weakest link. For instance, one person falling into a phishing trap could compromise your network and connected systems. They could click a malicious email link, unknowingly installing malware and enabling the adversary to execute code remotely and steal your data.

That’s only one example of social engineering, but many other threats lurk in the shadows. The best defense is regular cybersecurity awareness training.

It will teach your employees about password protection, public Wi-Fi, physical device security, social engineering, and other critical concepts. They’ll develop healthy cyber habits and help prevent or minimize risks.

2. The Principle of Least Privilege

Implementing the principle of least privilege means limiting system access to minimum resources users need to perform daily tasks. 

Let’s say you run an HVAC or landscaping business. Your HR team doesn’t need access to your home service digital marketing resources. If you granted it, and an attacker targeted one of your HR employees, they could access sensitive data like leads’ and customers’ contact details and your bank accounts for PPC advertising.

Therefore, give admin rights to your IT staff only. Carefully consider read and write permissions, ensuring employees can access and edit only what concerns their position.

3. Endpoint Security

Cybersecurity awareness training and admin privilege restrictions can’t prevent all potential data breach attempts. That’s where a network firewall (among other tools) with allow and deny lists comes into play.

However, what if an attacker slips through the firewall and reaches a computer, camera, virtual machine, or server? Protecting those endpoints becomes critical.

Besides an EPP (Endpoint Protection Platform) like robust antivirus and antimalware software, implement EDR (Endpoint Detection and Remediation) and XDR (Extended Detection and Response) systems. That way, you can detect real-time threats and prevent them from executing malware.

4. Network Segmentation

Network segmentation involves dividing a computer network into subnets (sub-networks), each with individual services and security mechanisms. For instance, you can separate IT workstations, application servers, printers, and database servers, creating a subnet for each.

That way, if potential adversaries breach your security perimeter and access one subnet, they can’t move laterally. They would have to breach each subnet separately, making significant noise in event logs and enabling you to stop their attempts.

Therefore, forgo a flat network topology and use switches to segment your network and protect critical assets.

5. Multi-Factor Authentication

What if your employees use weak passwords even after learning about vulnerabilities? What if they reuse them because they don’t want to remember multiple passwords?

Enter multi-factor authentication (MFA). It includes authenticating users according to two or more verification factors. For instance, they must provide a security token or a biometric scan (or both) instead of only a password or PIN.

That’s excellent protection because someone might crack a password but can’t provide higher-level verification factors like a facial scan or fingerprint. It’s ideal for all systems, primarily those storing financial data like encrypted cloud storage solutions.

6. OS and Software Patches

Regularly updating your operating system and software is crucial. Besides bug fixes and performance improvements, updates include patches for the latest cybersecurity vulnerabilities.

Those vulnerabilities are public knowledge, meaning anyone can exploit them. They can use open-source tools that make accessing machines remotely a breeze. They need minimum networking knowledge and no coding experience to run scripts and enter an unpatched system.

Therefore, don’t postpone updates. Install them immediately upon release to reduce the risk of a security breach.

7. Event Log Monitoring

Event logs in computer systems are text files documenting usage and operations across devices and apps. Some examples of such events are login attempts, file modification, and software installation.

Monitoring event logs is vital because it lets you detect suspicious activity and prevent it from wreaking havoc on your system.

You can use the Windows Event Viewer on Windows devices, but most professionals rely on automated solutions like SIEM (Security Information and Event Management) software. It provides real-time monitoring and analysis to help spot and stop threats before they cause damage.


These cybersecurity practices are the tip of the iceberg, but you must start somewhere. They’re fundamental for safeguarding your small business and don’t cost much to implement.

Still, looking at price tags when upgrading security isn’t wise because potential losses due to a data breach could be dramatically higher.


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