According to Research done by Better Business Bureau in 2017, small businesses lost about $80,000 due to cyber-attacks. Many small businesses are now prone to attack as they struggle to implement proper data security measures. This puts both the business and customer data vulnerable to theft. It could lead to you losing customer trust, which can be a blow to any Fortune 500, let alone a small business. You might even end up closing shop! That is why as a small business owner, it is imperative to take cybersecurity measures. The beauty is that there are many preventive measures that you can take with a limited budget. Let us delve in deeper and tell you some ways to stay safe from cybercrime.
Allocate a proper budget for cybersecurity
As stated by Frank Dickson, the Program Vice President, Cybersecurity Products, at International Data Corp, “as a thumb rule, an organization should set aside between 7% to 10% of the IT budget on cybersecurity.” Yes, it is time for small businesses to prioritize cybersecurity as they are now the main targets of criminals. It might look like a lot for a startup, but it is still less expensive for you to prevent the attack than to handle the aftermath. So, the first step is to set aside finances for security measures and cybersecurity staff.
Tip: You can outsource services to save on costs while still getting a proper team of security experts protecting your business
Keep your tools updated
Software developers always work to improve their tools to ensure they are less prone to attacks. Thus, you need to ensure that you have the latest version of all your computer software. According to Ars Technica, close to 143 million of user data was compromised after Equifax failed to patch a two-month-old bug. Don’t make this mistake! Do regular updates on software to patch up any bugs, reducing vulnerability to attacks.
Implementing Security Policies
Again, cyber-attacks are often expensive, and one protective measure you should take is to set security policies in your small business. The security policies should entail guidelines on the use of software and online systems to minimize cybersecurity risk. With the security policies, everyone in the business understands the security measures that they need to undertake to protect the business’s data, information, and assets. For instance, if your business uses a BYOD model, you need to have policies cover the mobile device management for you to protect the business against cyberattacks. Ensure that your cybersecurity policies highlight your employees’ do’s and don’ts and different responsibilities in enhancing cybersecurity. Highlight on your expectations on the use of social media at workplaces and rules entailing the use of emails. Moreover, ensure that all your employees are trained on the cybersecurity policies. Remember, your employees are your first line of defense!
Use Multifactor Authentication
Having a second form of verification that supplements your systems’ password is a great way to boost your business security. For example, you can use a password alongside a verification method such as a text or email. The extra verification method strengthens the security, reducing the chance of a cybercriminal accessing your devices or other sensitive information.
Use a Proper Network Firewall
It would also be best to use a proper network firewall to prevent external access to your networks. A firewall is a hardware or software tool that will monitor network traffics and control access based on your predetermined rules. For example, if data is being extracted or implanted into your network during transmission with no authorization, the firewall will shut down the process.
Use a VPN Infrastructure
A VPN is another nice security tool that can secure the privacy of your work devices and data. The VPN encrypts your files and secures your network connection, making it hard for any person who tries to intercept it to eavesdrop and decode. Well, use a VPN when accessing your business information system, especially in public networks, to reduce the possibility of third-party interception.
Create a Response Plan
Readiness is the first defense against cyber-attacks. But what do you do when your small business experiences a cyber-attack despite all the measures you take? Now, you need to have an incidence response protocol to identify and solve the problem in your network security system that could have predisposed you to cyber-attack. This is to minimize the damage and prevent the recurrence of the incident. For example, the incident response team can notify customers and users that have been affected or reach out to the bank if the event involved fraudulent money transfer. Moreover, if the incidence was triggered by employee negligence, you should enforce cybersecurity awareness among your employees.
Protecting your business’s data and that of your customers is now part of business. You are not too small to fall victim to cybercrime. Not to scare you, but if your data is breached, you are at risk of losing money, your customers’ trust, and your business. The bottom line is that it is time for you to take cybersecurity seriously and invest the right resources to stay safe!