The deception most small business owners believe is that they will not be targeted by cyber attackers because they only go for the big companies. This cannot be farther from the truth. Cyber attackers target any and all vulnerabilities they can abuse. Cybercriminals know that hitting small businesses can be very profitable. Budget constraints, lack of manpower, and technical savvy are some of the primary reasons why small business owners do not use robust security measures.
Annually, 29% of small business owners invest less $1,000 on cybersecurity. 80% of these same companies also do not consider cybersecurity as a top priority. This is precisely why they are all the more susceptible to hacks and breaches. Most small businesses are simply unprepared and should start thinking about how to keep their networks secure from hackers.
Here are some ways small businesses can be protected from cyberattacks:
1. Establish Cyberattack and Data Breach Prevention from Start
Every successful business begins with a great plan. You cannot exclude cybersecurity and data breach prevention out of that plan. From the get-go, determine how you will keep your business website and your users secure, and what steps you have at your disposal to prevent cyber attacks and breach of data.
These plans and protocols need to be updated continuously. Cyberattacks keep evolving, and your cybersecurity measures should be too.
2. Educate Yourself on Cybersecurity Trends and Threats
Cybersecurity is fast-evolving defenders need to be at the top of their game to outmanoeuvre cyber attackers. Keeping your business secured is not a luxury, it is a dire necessity. Cyberattacks are becoming more sophisticated and aggressive. If you want to preserve your integrity as a business, you need to have robust cybersecurity and data protection in your business.
It’s essential to keep yourself updated on the latest trends and threats to cybersecurity so that you and your business are not left out in the open. If your website is vulnerable, your business and your customers will be.
Even if you are a start-up business with limited funding, there are so many open-source cybersecurity software and apps at your disposal. Set up physical protocols to keep data secure. Limit access to your website and social media accounts to selected members of your team, and require your team to update their passwords often.
3. Train Your Team to be Cybersecurity-Savvy
It’s equally necessary for your team to stay up-to-datewith security trends, so they use company networks and databases mindfully. Cybersecurity and data protection should be everybody’s business.
Most cyberattacks happened due to somebody from the team opening a vulnerability to hackers even without knowing it. As a matter of fact, a study says that human error caused 47% of data breach cases.
So, education and training should not be for business owners and their web development team. Security protocols need to be echoed to every member of your team.
When you are echoing highly-technical information such as security protocols, find ways to make the information simple, concise, and memorable. Make cybersecurity part of your business or office culture, and not just an unnoticed memo on the bulletin board. If you need to conduct security drills and brush up on the protocols every now and then, do so.
For instance, require your team to store company files at the cloud storage of the company, and not in their individual devices, especially if they own the device. Having to save files always on the cloud not only keeps your records secure and easily accessible, but you also foster better collaboration among your team.
4. Use Encryption for All Your Sensitive Data
Prevention is better than cure. That goes for cybersecurity as well. Don’t wait for a cyberattack or data breach to happen before you practice care with your data. Mitigate risks early on by encrypting sensitive data, especially user’s data.
You can use encryption tools such as Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), 256-bit encryption, and XTS block cipher.
Again, set up protocols from the start, like password protocols in your team, accessibility, and IT infrastructure monitoring.
5. Have dedicated hardware for your business.
It’s always a great practice to separate what’s for the business and what’s personal. This includes time, resources, and even hardware. Avoid penny-pinching by using your personal resources for business use and vice versa.
Have dedicated equipment for your business, carefully tagged as assets by the company that needs to be maintained and kept secure. If you can, discourage employees from using their own laptop to work, because you open the risk even further to cyberattacks. If they work remotely and do not access the company’s network, it’s okay. But if they do access the company network, they need to be accountable and submit to the company’s security protocols.
For instance, an employee who uses their own device should not download pirated software, or access blocked websites even when they are not in the office. If they don’t comply, they open the company, the network, and the website that connects you to the market, to increased security risks.
Accessing the company’s Wi-Fi and internet network, employees should also agree to similar protocols. Most attacks happen through mobile devices, so be alert on this front as well.
Conclusion: Make Cybersecurity a Top Priority
“Don’t make excuses, make improvements,” says Neil Patel, Influencer, Co-founder of Crazy Egg, Hello Bar, and KISSmetrics, Ubersuggest, Neil Patel Digital, and other websites. No matter what your budget is on cybersecurity and data protection, you can always find ways to optimise it to secure your business. You can also cut on other expenses where you can just so you can allocate more funds for cybersecurity. It takes a while to build trust with your market, but it only takes a simple security and data breach to destroy all that. When trust is lost, it doesn’t take that quick to regain trust. For that reason alone, we can clearly see why cybersecurity should be a top priority for our business to be all the success it can be.
John Ocampos is an Opera Singer by profession and a member of the Philippine Tenors. Ever since, Digital Marketing has always been his forte. He is the Founder of SEO-Guru, and the Managing Director of Tech Hacker. John is also the Strategic SEO and Influencer Marketing Manager of Softvire Australia – the leading software eCommerce company in Australia and Softvire New Zealand.