As technology continues to evolve and the customers of the world look towards e-commerce and websites for their shopping and service needs, it has become imperative that businesses around the world turn their attention to cybersecurity. Large corporations understand this urgency, but small businesses have some work to do.
It is common for small to medium-sized business owners to put off cybersecurity as long as possible because they feel they do not have the resources to make a big difference, but failure to implement a smart strategy could lead to the downfall of your enterprise. Let’s talk about why cybersecurity is so important and what you can do to protect your business.
If you own a small business, then you need to make cybersecurity your next priority. It’s that simple. As mentioned, many small business owners put off cybersecurity because they either feel that they don’t have the proper resources to tackle the issue or they believe that since they are small fish, they can fly under the radar and hackers won’t notice them, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Cybercrime has grown by leaps and bounds over the years. In fact, since 2019, data breaches have increased by 50%. We are at a point now where close to 30,000 websites around the globe are hacked every day and a large portion of those websites belong to businesses. Hackers often target companies because they store large volumes of personal customer data, and any of that information, from an email address to a social security number, can be used to make fraudulent charges on a customer’s behalf or be sold on the black market.
Small businesses are a prime target, and they are always being attacked by hackers. In fact, as of 2016, at least half of all small businesses have had at least one data breach.
If money is the problem, then you need to look at your budget and free up some capital because a data breach can cause catastrophic damage to our company in many ways. For one, if your customers find that their data was stolen due to your negligence, you could take a major hit to your reputation and customers have no problem going to your competitor if they believe you can’t protect them. Then there is the financial hit. Right now, the average cost for a company to patch vulnerabilities and repair its reputation is close to $13 million. Can your company recover from such a financial setback?
Few can. That is why cybersecurity is essential.
You need to get serious about your cybersecurity efforts today. If you feel that you are relatively clueless when it comes to protecting your business from cybercriminals, then you should consult the services of an IT professional who can guide your particular setup. This expert can come in and look at all of your systems to determine if any existing vulnerabilities need immediate attention. The IT pro can also advise how to protect your systems going forward.
The advice you receive will likely include securing your systems with smart passwords that should be changed every several months. These passwords should have a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters, and they should not be shared amongst employees. For extra protection, all work devices should also be equipped with two-factor authentication, which is a second form of security. For your second layer, a biometric scan of your face or fingerprint is best as it is unique to the employee.
In addition to secure access points, you also need to implement the right tools that will continuously fight off potential threats. At a minimum, this means having antivirus software installed on all systems with scans every week. It is also a smart idea to put all work devices on a VPN (virtual private network), which will encrypt all incoming and outgoing communications so they cannot be used maliciously even if they find their way into the possession of a hacker.
Becoming serious about cybersecurity also means educating yourself and your staff about common threats and learning how to avoid them within your business.
A threat that will always exist is the phishing scam, which is typically an email that looks to be legitimate, but it contains a link or attachment that, when clicked or opened, unleashes malware that either installs a virus on your computer or opens a doorway for hackers to come and go as they please. It only takes one user to mistakenly fall for a phishing scam for your whole network to be compromised, so educate your team to only read emails that are sent from legitimate sources.
In this day and age, where many businesses are turning to a remote workforce, cybersecurity becomes even more essential, especially if employees work outside of their homes. When you work from a public place, including a restaurant or coffee shop, and connect to public Wi-Fi, you risk the chances of falling for a man-in-the-middle attack, which is a fake Wi-Fi network that is meant to look like the real deal. However, when you connect, you unknowingly are attaching yourself to a hacker’s computer, and they can use that gateway to install malware. To avoid this scam, ask an employee at the establishment for the correct network.
It is important to gather your teams and go over these and other security threats regularly so everyone knows how to do their part to keep their devices and the company secure, so hefty fines and data theft never become a reality.
In the end, if you care about the longevity of your business, then you need to take cybersecurity seriously. Implement the tips discussed above and give your company a fighting chance.
Beau Peters is a creative professional with a lifetime of experience in service and care. As a manager, he’s learned a slew of tricks of the trade that he enjoys sharing with others who have the same passion and dedication that he brings to his work. When he is not writing, he enjoys reading and trying new things.