It’s already a big job to keep your small business running smoothly, so imagine the additional hassle and expense if your business was to fall victim to a cyber crime.

Cyber criminals use technology to harvest information. They try to gain access to your servers or to your email to steal company information, like banking data, customer records and contact lists.

If you think your business is too small to be a target, consider this: According to the Ponemon Institute cyber crime cost smaller businesses more on average per capita ($1,088) than larger-sized businesses ($284).

Here are six steps to help keep your small business cyber safe:

1. Educate yourself.

Learn about cyber crime − the risks and the threats. Then, pass that information on to your employees. is a good place to start learning.

2. Invest in security software.

It may seem like an added or unnecessary expense, but investing in strong anti-spam, anti-spyware and firewall software could save your business a lot of money in the long run. Also, many security software companies offer products tailored to the needs of a small business, with more budget-friendly options.

3. Create strong passwords.

Your passwords should be at least eight characters, and incorporate numbers and special characters. They should also be changed regularly (at least every 90 days). Encourage your staff to do the same.

4. Protect mobile devices.

You may use a number of different devices to access company email and records (computer, laptop, tablet, smartphone, USB key, etc.). All of your strong cyber security practices should apply to these devices as well.

5. Develop policies.

Some cyber threats can impact your business due to inadvertent actions by your staff. For example, an employee may click on a link in an email which automatically downloads malware. Curb these threats by putting in place strong company policies for Internet use, email use and social media use. Ensure that your staff read and follow these policies.

6. Restrict physical access.

Ensure that your business is safe from unauthorized visitors, and that easy-to-grab laptops and mobile devices are stored securely and installed with remote tracking software.

Following these six steps will go a long way toward keeping your small business cyber safe.

More information and free resources are available on the Government of Canada’s website,