For many years, small (and even medium-sized) businesses have looked at cybersecurity as something invested in by larger companies and more established organizations. But if you look at what’s happening in this space today, it’s apparent that companies of all shapes and sizes need to be making more substantial investments into thwarting digital threats.
Here’s What the Numbers Say
Small businesses – which are usually considered companies with fewer than 500 employees – are not immune to cyber threats. In fact, hackers often see them as low-hanging fruit that can be more easily compromised via malware, ransomware, and other traditional approaches. And the impact of these attacks is usually devastating. Research shows:
- 28 percent of all breaches involve small businesses.
- The average cost of an insider-related cyber attack for SMBs is $7.68 million.
- 1 in 5 SMBs doesn’t use any endpoint security protections.
- 43 percent of SMBS lack a concrete cybersecurity defense strategy
In other words, cyber attacks are a real threat and the impact is decidedly severe for small businesses that don’t implement the right defense strategies.
5 Tips for Better Cybersecurity
Forbes is on the record as saying “breaches are the digital pandemic proving to be just as insidious and difficult to stop as COVID-19.” And leading cybersecurity firms like Mission Secure believe cybersecurity will evolve in 2021 and beyond. But what can small businesses do to ensure they’re on top of their game?
Here are some suggestions:
1. Get In the Know
The first step is to become more educated about your business’s back end and where your biggest weaknesses are. Only then can you correctly identify threats and implement strategic defense strategies for neutralizing costly future attacks.
Honesty is extremely important in this process. As uncomfortable as it can be to admit problems and create more work for your team (in the short-term), it’s absolutely critical to the long-term health and stability of the business.
If you feel like your team lacks the proper tools for identifying and addressing weaknesses, it can help for an outside consultant to paint a clearer picture for you. (And if your team is growing rapidly, it may be wise to hire a full-time security specialist to fully re-architect your approach.)
2. Train Employees
You’re only as strong as your weakest link. Sometimes that weak link is a network or piece of hardware. But more often than not, it’s a person.
Cybersecurity starts and stops with your employees. Properly training them to understand the importance of cybersecurity, how to identify threats, and how to avoid being compromised is vitally important.
Train employees on everything from spotting phishing scams and developing strong passwords to properly managing data and how to use personal devices on other networks.
3. Protect Devices
Speaking of devices, the Internet of Things (IoT) has created new complexities in the modern workplace. It’s no longer enough to protect company devices. You must also be cognizant of personal devices and how they’re being used to access company data.
A strong BYOD policy will help neutralize many of the threats that emerge in this area. Proper training is also encouraged.
4. Encrypt Everything
Sometimes attacks happen and an intruder makes their way into a device or network. If this happens, you want to protect your data through encryption. This can be done in a number of ways, but a VPN is a great start.
“Using a VPN is one of the best ways to protect small or medium-sized businesses from a cyber-attack,” Entrepreneur Handbook explains. “VPNs create encrypted tunnels that allow information to be sent in a secure and encrypted way. VPNs prevent information from being intercepted. If by some miracle of technology data is intercepted, they cannot decrypt it.”
When implemented alongside other security solutions, this will give you a firm foundation. Just make sure you’re continually reevaluating over time.
5. Have a Backup
Finally, it’s wise to have a backup in place. If something does happen and your network is shut down, you need to ensure you can wipe and restore everything with minimal friction and blowback. This is where a strong and detailed cybersecurity strategy comes into play.
Adding it All Up
Small businesses can no longer sit back and watch as larger companies take the brunt of the impact from breaches and hacks. Cybercriminals have zeroed in on SMBs and are using increasingly sophisticated attacks to compromise their most valuable data and internal resources. Now’s the time to step up, lest you fall seriously behind.