Importance of Cybersecurity for SMBs
According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), theft of digital information is now the most commonly reported type of fraud, even more prevalent than the theft of physical property. More and more businesses are making a digital transition, and accounting for cyber threats is something every small business owner should be aware of.
Depending on the industry, businesses may get away with little to no cybersecurity plan in place. However, because cyberattacks are rising, you must take preventive measures and protect your business assets.
Cybersecurity strategies can prove to be effective across smaller businesses, too. Let’s explore some of the ways you can protect your business from cyberattacks.
Because small businesses don’t operate on the same scale as larger corporations, owners may find cybersecurity too advanced or unnecessary for their operations.
However, it doesn’t mean that hackers aren’t targeting small or medium-sized businesses. In 2018, Ponemon Institute released a report indicating that 67% of small businesses experienced a cyber attack in the preceding year. Just because these attacks aren’t making headlines does not mean small businesses are automatically safe from cyberattacks.
Another issue small businesses should be concerned about is the use of ransomware by would-be cyber attackers. In essence, ransomware takes your network hostage and prevents you from accessing crucial information until you pay a ransom to the attacker. In ransomware cases, 33% of businesses end up paying the ransom demanded. Your goal should be to avoid falling into that percentage.
The last thing you want is to be forced to pay a ransom or deal with the harsh aftereffects of experiencing a cyberattack.
So, how can you protect your business from potential cyberattacks? We’ll take you through some steps you can take to limit the risks and threats that could negatively impact your business.
Forming a Cybersecurity Plan for Your Business
To cover your bases, it’s vital to utilize all of your industry's identified best cybersecurity practices. You must consider how your business could be potentially attacked and create a customized plan that’s relevant to your specific operations.
Identify digital assets and assess your risks
Your first step in forming a comprehensive cybersecurity plan is to identify the online assets you have that could lure in a would-be hacker or cyber-criminal.
Whether that’s customer credit card data for a retailer or sensitive medical information for a health care practice, many businesses store data that could harm others if leaked. Create an inventory of the intangible information you need to protect.
Protect your network
A primary source of protection for your business is a firewall. Firewalls monitor ingoing and outgoing network traffic, and you can tailor them to fit your business needs. They serve as gatekeepers and prevent unauthorized users from entering your network.
Ensure your Wi-Fi is kept private and use a secure router in a safe location. This will prevent anyone from physically messing with your information, as well as anyone online trying to hack into your network.
Form access control protocols
You must make individual accounts and unique passwords for all of your employees, especially if they spend most of their workday online. This will keep unauthorized users from entering the network and posing as one of your employees.
Determine which employees need access to various online accounts and databases and limit them accordingly. Access control strategies help contribute to your overall cybersecurity protection.
Train and update employees on cybersecurity plans
Educating your employees about potential cyberattack risks will keep them vigilant and prevent them from, say, opening suspicious links or ads. All employees should have a strong understanding of the internet and what cybersecurity plans are in place to help protect your company.
Employees unaware of common cybersecurity best practices are more vulnerable to an attack, but educating them to the best of your ability will lessen the risk and better prepare you in the event of a cyber incident.
Follow these guidelines if you’re looking to implement a cybersecurity plan into your business operations. It’s worth the investment — you could lose your digital assets, and your business may have trouble staying afloat if you leave cybersecurity on the backburner.
Protect Your Business From Cyberattacks
Business owners need to wear different hats when it comes to running their businesses. For example, a small clothing store owner has many responsibilities, like opening and closing at night, managing employees, paying bills, and ensuring customer satisfaction.
Make sure to wear the hat of the cybersecurity manager. Use these tips when you begin implementing cybersecurity measures into your business. While you may not be an IT professional, your future self will thank you for taking preventive measures.
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Funded, in part, through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. All opinions, and/or recommendations expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA.