Back to Cybersecurity Basics: Small Business Edition

March 8, 2022
Natalie Thorburn

Does your small business have a cybersecurity strategy? If you have to think about it for longer than a second, that is probably an indication that you should rethink your security position. Small businesses continue to be hot targets for malicious actors, and with data breaches costing upwards of an average of $200,000 per incident, it’s imperative that you have an effective strategy in place before the unthinkable happens.

Let’s take a look at several important things you need to keep in mind in order to maintain a dynamic, effective security presence and keep your business safe from the cybercriminals trying to take advantage of you:

1. Educate your employees

Believe it or not, people are the main culprit of cybersecurity vulnerabilities within the corporate world. Around 90 percent of cyberattacks are the result of employee negligence and human error, according to a report published in 2019 by Kaspersky Lab. People are particularly susceptible to social engineering and phishing tactics.

This is why it’s critical to educate your employees on the basics of cybersecurity and make sure they aren’t your first vector for penetration. Implement a phishing awareness campaign to teach your employees (and yourself!) how to spot attempts to compromise your data (e.g., misspelled emails, unsolicited messages from outside your domain, and unexpected email attachments). Be sure to include common cybersecurity issues like ransomware in your employee training so that everybody who works for you is well aware of what could possibly threaten your business.

2. Have a disaster recovery plan

When the unthinkable does happen, you will want to have a plan in place to recover quickly and completely. Disaster data recovery (DR) strategies include regular backups, the flexibility necessary to grow (and shrink, if needed) with your business, and easy-to-use tools that make seeing all of your data a simple button click. This plan supplements your business continuity (BC) plan that you may already have in place. You will need to be able to manage data through tools that offer single-pane-of-glass visibility so that you can plan for the loss of one or more pieces of your computing infrastructure (or records). Regular penetration testing and monitoring are necessary, as well.

3. Update your equipment and operating systems

As part of a continuous lifecycle, technology companies release firmware and software updates for their tools. Often, these updates include patches for security flaws that have been discovered in the code. Therefore, it’s critical to do the update as soon as it’s available on your particular system or software so that you are protected from any vulnerabilities that have been unearthed by security researchers.

4. Invest in cybersecurity and network security tools

One of the reasons cybercriminals target small businesses is that independent companies have fewer resources to devote to security. However, with data breaches costing so much money in the long run, more than 60 percent of small businesses shut their doors after being victims of a cyberattack, so it’s worth investing in security solutions.

Virtual private network (VPN) tools offer your employees a way to be safe when online, as they encrypt traffic and enforce anonymity (because using a VPN allows you to choose a different IP address)—not to mention VPNs are affordable, unlike suffering a cyberattack. Another important tool to use would be a firewall. This shields your computer or system from malicious attacks by blocking certain kinds of traffic on your network.

At the end of the day...

None of these steps should be implemented alone; all of the above are parts of a carefully executed cybersecurity strategy. When it comes to ensuring your business’s safety and the security of your important data, you don’t want to skimp.

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