Technology is evolving at a break-neck speed, with new developments coming out faster than most of us can keep up with them. This can be overwhelming for anyone, but especially for business owners and managers who are trying to keep up with changes in their business, their market, and their industry on top of everything else.
And then, even if you know of the technology, it can be overwhelming to know how to implement it and whether or not you actually need it. Some of it can even be downright intimidating, if not a little scary.
There are some tools out there that small businesses really don’t need, but there are a few that you should absolutely invest in, even if they sound a little intimidating. These are the four not-as-scary-as-they-sound technologies that you should consider implementing right away.
1. Intrusion Detection & Prevention Software
Intrusion detection and prevention software (IDS/IPS) is a fail-safe that’s designed to block unwanted traffic from entering your network. This sounds like a standard firewall at a first glance, but it works differently and slightly more thoroughly.
Firewalls (which many businesses are familiar with and already have up and running), work by reviewing packet header information to determine whether or not to allow access to the network. IDS/IPS software, however, will examine the full contents of every packet before it’s allowed entry into the network. It looks at more information and is thus able to sometimes catch more unwanted traffic before it comes into the network. And if someone does try to get in, you’ll get an alert.
You can choose from host-based intrusion detection systems (which examine what’s happening on a computer on your network) or network-based intrusion systems (which look at the traffic on the network). It’s crucial to always choose network-based software, as it can see more and assess threats to the network overall. You can see a few great options here.
Virtual Private Networks– more commonly known as VPNs– allow you to connect your device (including desktops and mobile devices) to the internet by connecting with a server in a different area.
This server can even be in a different country, masking where you are and making it harder for someone to break into your network. You can browse anonymously, and your online traffic will be encrypted, making it harder for you to be hacked.
While this sounds complicated, it’s not; all you need to do is set it up with the right software, and you’ll be good to go.
When you’re choosing a VPN for your business, make sure you’re choosing a commercial provider so that your entire staff can join in. You can find specific suggestions for software in this post from Computerworld.
3. Encryption Software
Hopefully, your anti-virus software and firewalls will be doing their job, and no one will get into your system. Even if you’re using the best tech in those areas possible, you still need to be using encryption tools to protect your data.
Encryption works to protect your data by essentially scrambling it while it’s traveling from one digital location to another or even being stored. Only the intended recipients are able to see the information in its unscrambled version.
This protects all your company’s valuable data, whether someone hacks into an email or swipes a team member’s laptop and tries to download files from it while locked.
Encryption sounds intimidating, but it’s actually easy to use. Most messaging systems like Signal already used standard encryption, and you can use software to protect your systems and your hardware. Some options are even free, and you can see a list of some of the best tools here.
4. Password Safes
Password safes work by storing your passwords, encrypted, so that you’re able to quickly log in on your devices.
The thought of storing all of your company passwords– and your employee’s passwords– into a single program can sound downright terrifying, and not because it’s complex or intimidating to set up. The thought of “what if it gets hacked” is justifiably one that could make people think twice.
Ultimately, though, these tools will make your system more secure, especially once you consider that you should be using strong, diverse passwords for each specific login. These can be complicated and difficult to remember, so password safes will store them on the local computer and encrypt them securely. It’s fast to log in, and you only need to know the master password or select the right keyfile in order to get into the system you’re trying to access.
When choosing a password safe, it’s particularly important to choose one that’s reliable, high quality, and currently supported. This list contains 2019’s most recommended options.
Oh, and if you really want to find out how strong those passwords are? You can use a password sniffing software like John the Ripper to see how easily they could be hacked.
Sometimes, using tools that gain access to our systems (or even hold the passwords to get into our systems) can be downright terrifying to trust. Wondering about using a non-secure server or software that could somehow corrupt key data sounds scary, but using high-quality, well-recommended versions of tools on this list will help protect your business from serious security threats. Some options are free, and many are designed for small business and commercial use, meaning that they’ll be affordable and can scale with you as you grow.