While it hasn’t been widely publicized, cybercriminals are increasingly abandoning their pursuits of large corporations in favor of their more vulnerable small business counterparts. For every enterprise-level incident that makes the news, there are thousands of small to medium-sized companies that had their sensitive data exposed at the hands of sophisticated hackers.
Why do small businesses need strong cybersecurity?
As mentioned, small companies have found themselves the new prime targets for criminal threat actors because they lack the robust cybersecurity budgets of their larger competitors. Nevertheless, these businesses still house droves of sensitive data that cybercriminals continually seek. Recent reports show that up to a third of all data theft victims originated from a small business breach.
Just as many small business respondents confirmed they had experienced a data breach within the last twelve months in a recent National Cyber Security Alliance survey. After the breach occurred, nearly 40% of the small businesses impacted suffered a significant financial loss while a quarter of them were forced into bankruptcy. Of the companies victimized, 10% went out of business entirely.
While most small business owners admit they’re likely to become a target at some point, only about 60% of them have established cybersecurity as a high priority for their current business operations. Yet, fewer than half of these respondents felt like their ability to detect, fight off and mitigate serious attacks was adequate.
Basics of Cybersecurity
The Internet has empowered large and small businesses alike to expand into new markets and deliver goods and services more efficiently than ever before through the use of computerized tools. It doesn’t matter if your company is considering Cloud-based solutions, doing business over email only, or maintaining a basic hosting site, cybersecurity must stay inbuilt into your company’s long-term growth and development strategy.
Data theft resulting from cyberattacks is now the most frequently reported type of fraud, surpassing theft of physical items. Every company that conducts business over the Internet is responsible for securing their customer’s valuable information. The best approach to establishing a culture of security to enhance confidence among your trading partners is to prioritize your company’s cybersecurity plan.
Cybersecurity tips for small businesses
Grappling with the aftermath of a successful cybersecurity attack is costly, stressful, and resource-intensive. Here are a few simple steps your small businesses can take to protect the company’s sensitive information against a cyberattack:
Understand your vulnerabilities
Collaborate closely with your in-house IT or trusted managed service provider to perform a comprehensive audit on your current security practices and protocols. Consider the following common points of vulnerability for small and medium-sized businesses:
Over-stressed and under-skilled in-house IT – Because cybersecurity has been an afterthought for many small business upstarts, they haven’t set aside adequate budgets for a dedicated cybersecurity team. If you haven’t prepared to manage your security on-premises, outsourcing the task to an IT subscription service is your best alternative. You’ll benefit from around-the-clock monitoring at a comparatively low monthly cost.
Significant employee skill gaps – Somewhat related to the first point, it shouldn’t go without mentioning that cybercriminals are waging increasingly sophisticated attacks, and employees unprepared to recognize these incidents place your company at significant risk. Proper data security training for all your staff is a must.
Poor endpoint and network security – Criminal hackers can penetrate your systems in a number of ways. Most often, they gain entry through unsecured Wi-Fi networks and company endpoints (PCs, laptops, mobile devices) containing weak passwords and improperly updated software with outdated security patches.
Establish a proper cybersecurity plan
After performing your risk assessment, work with your IT experts to develop a set of procedures to minimize your company’s exposure to attacks.
Conduct regular assessments – Vulnerability scanning tools can help monitor your networks, websites, and data storage systems while keeping your firewalls, VPNs, and antivirus software up-to-date.
Maintain regular software patching – Ensure that you’re always running the latest release of the software you’re using and installing the recommended patches as soon as they’re available.
Strong passwords and two-factor authentication – Everyone in your company should be armed with secure passwords and using two-factor authentication for all applications and websites whenever possible. Setting up your employees with a password manager profile helps ensure that your staff is securely storing its login information.
Back up your critical data – The most effective way to protect yourself against a successful ransomware attack is the back your data up either onsite or through your Cloud-solution provider.
Develop an executable recovery strategy
An effective cybersecurity strategy always accounts for the worst possible outcome. Establish a set of clear procedures to follow in the event of a cyberattack. Delegate specific duties to members of your team and do trial runs to identify any vulnerabilities in your protocols.
Maintain a informed workforce
Your cybersecurity plan will hold little traction if your staff doesn’t understand its significance. Regular training on the basics of cybersecurity across all departments drastically improves the digital security culture of any organization.
Are you concerned that you’ve procrastinated too long on developing cybersecurity strategies? Are you worried your current system vulnerabilities might cause major headaches down the line?
Run by experts in IT, PCH Technologies provides cybersecurity risk assessments for small businesses in New Jersey. To learn more, book your discovery call now by dialing (856) 754-7500.