Small Business Cyber Security Tips: Understanding the Basics
Cyberthreats aren't just a problem for big corporations and governments; small businesses can be targets too. Research suggests that 22% of small businesses have been the targets of cyberattacks. Approximately 11 percent of these occurred in the last year, according to a study conducted by the Better Business Bureau.
It's important to protect your business from cyberattacks, but the truth is, some business owners aren't quite sure how. Here's a guide to help small businesses owners navigate the world of cyberthreats.
What's at Risk?
Cyberattacks put your money, data and IT equipment at risk. If a hacker gains access to your network, they could do a lot of damage with what they find, such as:
- Access to client lists
- Customer credit card information
- Your company's banking details
- Your pricing structure
- Product designs
- Expansion plans
- Manufacturing processes
These attacks don't just put your company at risk, either. Hackers may use their access to your network as a stepping stone into the networks of other companies whose supply chains you're part of.
What's the Impact of an Attack?
A cyberattack can drastically impact your business. In fact, 60% of small businesses that fall victim to an attack shut down within six months after the breach. While that may be the most devastating result of the attack, there are other consequences that your business could experience, including the following:
- Financial losses from theft of banking information
- Financial losses from disruption of business
- High costs to rid your network of threats
- Damage to your reputation after telling customers their information was compromised
What Can You Do to Protect Your Business from Cyberthreats?
As a small business, you might feel helpless against cyberattacks. Fortunately, you can take steps to protect your company. Here's what you can do to get started.
Employees can leave your business vulnerable to an attack. Research shows that 43 percent of data loss stems from internal employees who either maliciously or carelessly give cybercriminals access to your networks.
There are many scenarios that could result in employee-initiated attacks. These can be an employee losing a work tablet or giving away login credentials. They can also include opening fraudulent emails, which deploys viruses on the network.
To protect against threats from within, invest in cybersecurity training for your employees. Educate them what they should do if they get for example a suspicious email.
Perform Risk Assessment
Evaluate potential risks that might compromise the security of your company's networks, systems and information. Identifying and analyzing possible threats can help you formulate a plan to plug any gaps in security.
As part of your risk assessment efforts, examine where and how your data is stored and who has access to it. Identify who may want to access the data and how they may try to obtain it. Determine the risk levels of possible events and how breaches can potentially impact the company.
Once this analysis is complete and you've identified threats, use the information you've gained to develop or refine your security strategy. Review and revise the security strategy at regular intervals and when you make any substantial changes to information storage and usage. This helps you provide more extensive protection for your data.
Deploy Antivirus Software
You need antivirus software that can protect all of your devices from viruses, spyware, ransomware and phishing scams. Make sure the software not only offers protection, but also technology that helps you clean computers as needed and resets them to their pre-infected state.
Keep Software Updated
The software that you use to keep your business running should be up to date. Every piece of software is updated with regularity to strengthen it or add patches that close coding loopholes hackers can slide through.
Back Up Your Files Regularly
Does your company back up its files? If a cyberattack happens, data could be compromised or deleted. If that happens, could your business still run? Given the amount of data you might store on laptops and cell phones, most businesses wouldn't be able to function.
To help, rely on a backup program that automatically copies your files to storage. In the event of an attack, you can restore all of your files from your backups. Choose a program that gives you the ability to schedule or automate the backup process so you don't have to remember to do it. Store copies of backups offline so they don't become encrypted or inaccessible if your system suffers a ransomware attack.
What to Look For in a Cybersecurity Company
For many businesses, cybersecurity is a bit out of their wheelhouse. If you need help with cybersecurity, it's understandable. After all, you have a business to run. But, how do you know what to look for in a cybersecurity company? To help, here's a checklist of features.
Independent Tests and Reviews
A cybersecurity company could dazzle you with a big tech words and an impressive marketing campaign, but look at independent tests and reviews. The best cybersecurity firms want their products tested and are more than willing to share the results.
Avoiding Cheap Options
You don't want a company that comes in, installs some software and disappears. A company claiming to specialize in one field without offering additional products or support can't provide the protection you need.
Whether there's a threat detected or you're having trouble backing up your files, you want a company that offers impeccable support. Choose a company that helps you navigate threats, finds solutions and takes the hassle out of cybersecurity.
Your business will likely grow, and you need a cybersecurity company that can grow with you. Focus on companies that offer full suites of security choices, including those you may need in the future. Small business owners have always had long to-do lists, but now, cybersecurity is at the top of the list. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to protect your small business, and the right cybersecurity company can help mitigate your risks.