Cybersecurity is a common problem for all companies—small businesses are no exception. In fact, just under half of small businesses experienced a cyber attack in 2017. Now is the time to start thinking if you don’t currently have a plan in place. Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to protect your organization against attacks. In honor of Cybersecurity Awareness Month, here’s what to consider when it comes to stopping hackers in their tracks.
Assess Your Risk
You can’t protect yourself against cyber threats you’re not even aware of. Naturally, the first thing to do is a little research on the different types of data breaches your specific business might be at risk for. These will vary but can include malware, ransomware, or skimming.
What kind of data does your company handle on a regular basis? The biggest mistake you can make is thinking you don’t have information worth stealing. Cyber criminals know that smaller businesses have less data—and less protection too. They’ll typically look for sensitive data that can be used to steal identities or make unauthorized purchases. That means you’re a target if you have access to customers’ names, credit card numbers, social security numbers, medical records, or similar data.
Once you’ve got a list of cybersecurity risks, assess your vulnerability to each one. Ask yourself how prepared you are against each individual threat and what would be affected in each scenario.
Small and medium-sized businesses lost over $2 million in damages and disruptions due to cyber attacks and data breaches in a year. While the severity and potential losses will vary, it’s worth noting your ability to respond to each data breach.
Make—and Document—a Plan
Don’t stop once you’ve figured out what kinds of cyber attacks you’re vulnerable to. Small business owners should establish protocols employees can follow to prevent or react to an attack. Training staff and documenting everything will help your organization protect against cybersecurity threats.
Additionally, a carefully crafted plan can also reduce downtime in case of a disaster. Sixty-six percent of surveyed small business IT managers said their company would shut down for at least one day, or shut its doors permanently if data was stolen. A robust recovery plan can minimize downtime and even save your business.
Plans will (and should) look different for every company, but here are some ideas to get you started:
Standards and best practices for strong passwords.
Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies that include phones and wearables.
When, and how often, to do system backups.
Guidelines on securing both your employee and customer Wi-Fi network.
Firewalls (external, internal, and home network), anti-malware, anti-virus, and other types of preventative software to use.
How to properly store and manage documents, or information.
Correct timelines for keeping and destroying records.
Rules regarding accessing information (including security clearances, individual logins, and two-factor authentications).
How to restore information and recover your entire system.
What employees should do in case of an attack or data breach.
Educate Your Employees
Even the perfect plan can fail if your employees aren’t aware of it before disaster strikes. Train every staff member on the importance of small business cybersecurity. Go through your company’s specific policies and protocols with current workers and during your onboarding process.
You may find it helpful to have employees sign documentation stating they’ve seen and understood your cybersecurity plan. This can also include acknowledging there may be consequences for failure to comply.
Your employees are typically your first line of defense. Ignorance, negligence, and human error can easily result in cyber attacks. With a well-trained staff on the lookout, you’re already one step ahead of hackers.
Find a Trusted Partner
Small business owners already wear several hats. Cybersecurity expert doesn’t have to be one of them. Just sixteen percent of small businesses feel very confident with their current ability to protect against cybercrime. Partner with a consultant, IT professional, or third-party organization to identify risks, create strategies, and manage threats. Frontier Business has the security options and expertise to help you gain peace of mind.