More and more often, we hear horrific accounts about small businesses that are devastated by cybersecurity attacks.
Did you know that data breaches are one of the top concerns for today’s organizations? Even in 2017, the average global cost of a single violation was estimated at $3.62 million, which is still rising.
The significance of network security for any business goes beyond the financial repercussions of a breach, as an attack can jeopardize the trust of your customers.
In fact, within six months of experiencing a data breach or cyber-attack, 60 percent of small companies go out of business.
Let’s take a closer look at what a cyber-attack is, and then we will look at what you, as a small business owner, can do to protect yourself.
It also says, “on average, an employee of a small business with less than 100 employees will experience 350% more social engineering attacks than an employee of a larger enterprise.
With these statistics looming over you, it’s time to take action and identify the security vulnerabilities of your business and implmenet measures to overcome them.
The significance of cyber security for small businesses lies in the fact that cyberattacks threaten their finances, IT equipment, and data.
Once a hacker gains entry into the network, they can cause significant harm by accessing the following:
As well as the company, the risk may also extend to other businesses in whose supply chains the company participates, as a hacker can use the access to the network as a gateway to other company networks.
The importance of cyber security for businesses has increased with the rise of remote work across the globe. Numerous small companies rely on cloud-based technology and tools for their day-to-day activities, such as:
It is crucial to safeguard your data and cloud-based systems from unauthorized security breaches or hacks.
Despite being a small business, you need not feel vulnerable to cyberattacks. You can safeguard your company by staying updated with the latest security strategies for businesses.
Here are some crucial cybersecurity recommendations for your business:
It is a fact that employees can put your business at risk of cyber-attacks.
Although the exact figures may differ depending on the country and industry, insiders often unintentionally allow cybercriminals to access your networks and cause data breaches.
There are various ways in which employees can initiate attacks, such as losing a work tablet, revealing login credentials, or inadvertently opening fraudulent emails that can introduce viruses into your business network.
To safeguard against internal threats, it is essential to educate employees by providing cybersecurity training to them.
This may include educating them on the significance of using strong passwords and how to identify phishing emails.
Now is the time to establish clear policies outlining how to handle and protect customer information and what actions to take in the event of a security breach.
When selecting antivirus software, ensure it can safeguard all your devices against viruses, ransomware, spyware, and phishing scams.
Verify that the software includes technology that enables you to cleanse your devices as necessary and restore them to their original state before infection.
It is essential to keep your antivirus up-to-date to remain protected against the most recent cyber threats and address any security threats.
What is the use of installing the best security systems to keep your business safe and then never installing updates?
It is vitally important to regularly update all software used to maintain your cybersecurity systems.
Software vendors frequently release updates to enhance their products or fix security flaws.
It should be noted that specific software, like the firmware on a Wi-Fi router, may require manual updates. Failing to install security patches can leave your router and connected devices open to potential threats.
Assess potential threats that might endanger the security of your organization’s networks, systems, and data. Identifying and analyzing potential risks can help you to create a strategy to address security vulnerabilities.
As part of your risk assessment, determine where and how your data is stored:
Once this analysis is complete and you have identified threats, use the information you have collated to develop or improve your security strategy.
Review and update this strategy regularly and whenever you change information storage and usage. This will ensure your data is always protected to the best of your ability.
Does your company back up its files? This is one of the biggest failures of small business. They fail to regularly backup files.
If a cyberattack happens, data could be compromised or deleted. If that happened, could your business still run?
Don’t forget to consider the amount of data that may be stored on laptops and cell phones – without this, many businesses wouldn’t be able to function.
To help, use a backup program that automatically copies your files to storage.
In the event of an attack, you can restore all your files from your backups.
Choose a program that allows you to schedule or automate the backup process so you don’t have to remember to do it. Store copies of backups offline and even away from your office at another address.
It is essential to protect sensitive information by instructing all employees to use a strong password on all devices.
A strong password should include a mixture of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols, and have at least 12 characters.
The harder it is for someone to guess a password, the less likely they will be able to use brute force tactics to gain access.
Implementing a policy that requires passwords to be changed regularly (at least every three months) is recommended.
Small businesses should consider enabling multi-factor authentication (MFA) on employees’ devices and applications.
Remembering strong, distinct passwords for each device or account can be challenging, and typing them out repeatedly can hinder your employees’ productivity.
Many small businesses opt for password management tools. The fact is that keeping your business running means strong passwords.
Password Managers store:
This implies that users only need to recall a single PIN or master password. That makes a lot of sense. Limit the possibilities of ransomware attacks by adding this extra layer of protection.
You see that if you can make these tasks simple, then they will get adhered to.
Installing a firewall benefits any company with physical servers as it protects both hardware and software.
The firewall prevents viruses from entering your network, unlike an antivirus that targets software already affected by a virus.
With a firewall in place, your business’s inbound and outbound network traffic is safeguarded, and certain websites can be blocked to prevent hacker attacks.
The firewall can be programmed to restrict the transmission of sensitive data and confidential emails from your company’s network.
Regularly checking for the latest software or firmware updates after installation is essential to update your firewall.
Establishing and upholding formal security policies to secure your system is crucial.
Safeguarding the network should be a top priority for all users as they could become targets for attackers.
Organize frequent meetings and workshops to educate users on effective cybersecurity measures, such as generating robust passwords, recognizing, and reporting suspicious emails, enabling two-factor authentication, and refraining from clicking on links or downloading attachments from emails.
In summary, protecting your small business from cyber threats should be a top priority. Implementing strong cyber security practices can help safeguard your business and customer data. Regularly update software, create strong passwords, and educate employees on safe online habits. In addition, consider investing in cyber liability insurance to protect your business further. By taking these steps, you can prevent potential breaches and ensure the longevity of your small business. Protect yourself today and stay vigilant against evolving cyber threats.
This completes our series on current issues affecting small businesses. Other articles in this series include:
The Small Business Labor Shortage: Where, Why, and How to Survive
Small Business Supply Chain Disruption: How to Survive
How to Survive Inflation as a Small Business Owner
Navigating Economic Uncertainty: 7 Strategies for Self-Employed Small Business Owners
Issues Affecting Small Business: Compliance with Government Regulations
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Ed Carey, AMG, LLC