Microsoft President’s 4 Key Tips for Small Business Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity risk is one of the most important things a small business owner needs to consider, says Microsoft President Brad Smith – and there are four easy tips to nip these concerns in the bud.

Smith's first tip is to keep all cybersecurity software up to date and don't be afraid to upgrade systems if needed. Consumers' data is precious, and if it's compromised, they'll lose faith in a business they once trusted. Smith notes that companies like Microsoft and Oracle make it a habit to upgrade and fix problems in software once a week on what they call "Patch Tuesday," when they release "patches" or upgrades that fill in the gaps of existing software.

Next, small businesses need to ensure that their passwords are complicated enough to be useful. Unpredictable passwords are more likely to stand up to potential hackers, but many small business owners simply don't want to make an effort to create and remember those passwords. A report from cybersecurity company and proprietary password manager NordPass examined a data breach of more than 15.6 million companies and found one commonality between all businesses affected: the word "password" was the most common password used across all industries. Smith also recommends using multifactor authentication (MFA) for safe logins.

While changing passwords and integrating MFA will eliminate 95% of potential risk, Smith says, cloud security is another way to ensure continued security. Cloud security means a program is accessible through the internet rather than using available hardware or programs. Smith says this can help outsource security and take it off of a small business owner's to-do list.

Lastly, Smith recommends that small business owners enroll in educational programs (some of which are free through the Small Business Administration) that help plan for potential cybersecurity attacks. Despite potentially slim financial resources to upgrade to the most expensive and comprehensive software, business owners can still do their best to stay informed and avoid threats.