The importance of cybersecurity in businesses should never be underestimated. Businesses of all types, and sizes are constantly at risk of cyber-attacks. Below are some of the cybersecurity solutions for small businesses that you should consider.
Back in 2015 alone, 43 percent of data breaches were targeted at small businesses.
There has been an alarming increase in the instances of cyber-attacks making the news each day, particularly since the pandemic began early 2020. Even the top internet security companies are reiterating that cybersecurity is becoming of utmost priority in any organisation.
Unfortunately most small business owners are underestimating their risk and overestimating their confidence in being cyber-secure. Most think cybercriminals only attack large organisations. However for hackers, small businesses are attractive targets because of the vulnerabilities in their cybersecurity that arise from a lack of investment unlike larger companies.
Our experience has found very few small businesses understand their cybersecurity well enough to effectively lower their risks of a cyber-attack. Many think anti-virus software is enough, when in fact it only comprises 20% of the cybersecurity a small business needs.
Even worse, almost all businesses use traditional outdated anto-virus software that doesn’t have EDR (end-point detection and response) enabled putting them at greater risk.
Let’s explore the main reasons why cybercriminals target small businesses, and what you should do to protect yourself.
Small Businesses as Targets
It’s pretty obvious that businesses nowadays depend heavily on technology, leaving them highly vulnerable to cyber-attacks. Regardless of the service they offer, or product they sell, or the size of the company, all are at some risk.
Even the healthcare industry is not spared, and in fact is often highly targeted. Statistics show that back in 2015/2016, data breaches in healthcare industries ballooned by 320 percent! This has spurned many cyber attack protection companies into action and doubled the industry efforts to cope with hackers increasingly targeting healthcare.
There are various reasons why small businesses are favorite targets for cyberattacks. First and foremost, this type of business usually lacks the knowledge to set up protective systems.
Cybercriminals generally steal personal and credit card information, Medicare and tax file numbers, and even intellectual property which are often poorly defended on small business systems.
Secondly, larger businesses have the financial resources and capability to upgrade their cybersecurity as technology and threats change over time. They can stay current whilst small businesses cannot.
Third, it is important to backup your business data regularly. It may sound simplistic but rest assured this protective measure will significantly reduce the risk of permanently losing sensitive data through a ransomware attack. The best strategy is backing up your most important information offline and storing is offsite.
Data breaches are not only embarrassing for those customers who have their information stolen, but can also be the death knell for the business itself. For a small business, the average cost of a breach is about $38,000. Most small businesses could not afford to be without this amount of capital. In addition, for many small businesses, losing their data means losing their business (ie; their ability to operate).
Probably the biggest barrier small business owners face when it comes to cybersecurity is the misconception that cybersecurity is expensive and only for large enterprises, banks and the government (it’s not).
Things have changed in recent years, making cybersecurity affordable for every small business. Especially compared to the cost of fixing the damage a cyber-attack causes, including paying government fines and potential customer lawsuits. Prevention is far better than cure.
How to Improve Your Cybersecurity
Strengthening your cybersecurity is relatively easy if you understand the basics (the 3P’s of protection, process and people). The following are some key tips to reducing your risk of being hacked:
Improve Password Protection
Most cybersecurity services for small businesses provide training on password management. Strong passwords are recommended, along with prompting users to change their password regularly. It’s also wise to implement policies that regulate password sharing between employees.
Layered security can help keep your sensitive data safe from being stolen even if your system suffers a breach. Limit your employees’ access to the information they only need for their specific job. Provide several layers of protection, such as strong passwords, two-factor authentication (2 step login), etc.
Train Your Employees
Many cybersecurity consulting companies will advise you to train your employees on cybersecurity. Regardless of the policies and tools you have in place, employees will still cause data breaches if they’re not properly trained. Be sure that all employees fully understand how to use company resources appropriately and the penalties for failing to follow security protocols.
Try Hacking Yourself
If you’re not sure how vulnerable your system is, have a cybersecurity expert run a health check on your system to uncover any vulnerabilities. Once you’re aware of the weaknesses, you can easily provide the needed changes and protection for your business, network, and clients.
One of the easiest and most effective ways to protect your customer data is to avoid storing irrelevant data. A customer’s Medicare number or driver’s licence are two of the most sensitive items of information and should be protected at all times. However if there’s no reason to retain said data after it’s been used, then enact processes to automatically delete it. If you don’t possess the information that cybercriminals target, you can prevent a breach from ever occurring.
These are just some of the tips and tricks to improve your small business cybersecurity. By having the right protections in place to prevent a cyber-attack, you can have peace of mind knowing both your business and your customer’s data are protected in the best possible way.
Forewarned Is Forearmed
When business owners understand the importance of data privacy and cybersecurity they’re more effectively able to deal with cyber-attacks and data breaches when they arise. Regardless of your business size and resources on hand, it’s never too late to protect your most valuable asset (your business).