Keep Your Business Safe from Hackers
3 minute read

Uptown Cow owner Jacob Dubois offers helpful tips on how to ramp up cybersecurity to protect your business

The idea that cybersecurity measures are only for large, global businesses can potentially result in a dangerous situation for small business owners. Why? According to Jacob Dubois, owner of Burlington-based website design and e-commerce firm Uptown Cow, hackers actually target smaller businesses because it’s both unexpected and easier to break in. 

“I don’t like to use scare tactics with my clients,” Jacob explains. “But I do want them to assess their risk and realize that a hacking incident could be a very difficult reality. If a business’ bank account is cleaned out, that could have disastrous results.”

Jacob’s warnings sound ominous, but the bright side is that there are simple steps that can be taken to mitigate risk and to protect small businesses from a cybersecurity incident that could wipe out funds, destroy credit, or force a company to lay off employees.

“We understand that small business owners are stretched to the limit and burning the wick at both ends,” Jacob continues. “That’s why I urge taking simple, manageable action steps that can offer significant protection.”

  1. Set Strong Passwords. 

The best scenario is to use a different password for every site. It sounds like a lot, but this will offer you a lot of protection. There are many Password Manager options that will allow you the mental capacity to have multiple passwords, different for every site. Examples include DashLane and LastPass, but there are many others.

2. Create Employee Policies.

It is critical to educate your employees on cybersecurity so they too can help protect your business. You can give a Password Manager account to your employees and train them how to use it.

3. Consider Two-Factor Authentication

Two-factor authentication sends you a code after you have signed in to give you an extra layer of protection. Make sure you have turned it on on your important sites.

4. Start with the Sites that can have the Most Impact.

If you cannot get to every account, start with your bank account, credit cards, and website. These are the sites that if breached, will most negatively impact your business.

5. Limit Access and Delete Old Users.

This is one area that frequently goes unnoticed. First, not everyone on your staff needs access to all your sites. For example, only an employee who manages your financials should have access to your business bank account. Along the same lines, if an employee leaves, make sure to delete that person from your sites, including social media. There’s no reason why they should still have access, and this could be a recipe for disaster. If you have an exit plan for employees, make sure to add this to the checklist.

6. Remember to Secure Mobile Devices.

Many of us only think of our desktop or laptop computers when dealing with cybersecurity. Phones and iPads are also vulnerable so remember to take measures to protect those as well. For example, discourage staff members from putting their passwords on the notes in their mobile device. You might need a policy about having a password manager in place.

7. Secure Wi-Fi

It’s a lot easier to be hacked if your Wi-Fi is not secured, and this is an easy fix. You can have employee and guest passwords to sign in and can easily change the passwords when you need to.

8. Train Employees about Phishing Emails.

We’ve all received them. Emails that look like they are coming from a trusted source but have one letter off or a tiny detail indicated that it is coming from someone else. Train employees to check emails carefully and NOT to click on a link or button in the email. Instead, go to the actual site to check for account updates or messages.

10. Back up Data Regularly

Best practice is to mark your calendar to back up your data on a regular schedule so in the event you are hacked, you will be able to recreate your files.

11. Create a Secure Storage System.

Use a reputable device or program to save your backed up data so you can access it when needed.

Finally, Jacob recommends that small business owners pay attention to cybersecurity threats they may hear about from the news or trusted sources. Unfortunately, it is a part of today’s business landscape, and small businesses are under cyber and data-breach attacks by nation-states, as well as organized and disorganized criminals, who are stealing intellectual capital, personal and business information, creating havoc in business environments. 

For more resources and education on cybersecurity, VtSBDC provides small businesses with simple awareness information and a path forward to a more in-depth assessment protection of critical confidential information.

More about Uptown Cow & Jacob Dubois

Jacob helps small business owners manage and grow their online sales. Their team uses a variety of tools (email marketing, ad management, CRO) to yield higher conversions for clients to scale their ecommerce store while they focus on developing the product.


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