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Why Cybersecurity is Important For Small Businessesby@misanetchie
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Why Cybersecurity is Important For Small Businesses

by Misan EtchieJanuary 15th, 2022
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It's almost 2022 and cybercrime is at an all-time high. Cyberattacks are becoming increasingly sophisticated, and nobody is safe– from the common everyday internet user, to multinational conglomerates, to government institutions. It's always said that individuals need to practice better cybersecurity hygiene and it's expected that as organisations with valuable, high risk information, larger international enterprises and government agencies spend a lot of money on implementing secure up-to-date cybersecurity programs. But what about small businesses? 

Small businesses might think cybercriminals would rather target larger enterprises and companies because of their sheer amount of valuable data, as well as resources. However, this is far from true with almost 70% of small businesses suffering from cyber attacks, and without proper cybersecurity plans, the risk felt from these cyberattacks are vastly increased. 

Many small business owners may believe that since their company is small they will never come up on the radar of a cybercriminal studies have shown that they seem to actually be the most vulnerable to an attack. It was found that 43% of all cyber attacks were aimed at small businesses. Why is this?

Many Small Businesses Lack Adequate Security Measures

Small businesses generally don't really put cybersecurity infrastructure in place. Implementation of cybersecurity infrastructure costs a significant amount of resources, and larger corporations often allocate millions of dollars to their security systems and are able to employ skilled cybersecurity solutions consultants. Small businesses just don’t have the kind of money needed to set up adequate cybersecurity infrastructure. 

Affordable IT security solutions for small businesses are almost non-existent. Since owners typically don’t have enough resources to splurge on cybersecurity, this also means they can’t afford to employ a team of professionals to set up, maintain and monitor their cybersecurity systems. For the few small businesses that have some form of security, they are far more likely to make use of outdated systems or lack proper security protocols. The management and running of said cybersecurity teams are, most times, also pushed on a team of a few inexperienced people.

Cybersecurity Threats Are Not Taken Seriously

A survey of more than 2000 small business owners conducted by CNBC revealed that only a mere 2% viewed cyberattacks as their most significant problem. Small business owners don’t think they will be targeted and aren’t prepared for attacks by cybercriminals. However, in a spark of irony, it is this way of thinking that is their undoing. This is the reason why they are so vulnerable. 

Cybercriminals love to hit small businesses because they know the owners won't take that many security precautions to secure themselves, making them easy targets. Cybercriminals are after personal data, and not only big corporations have those. The Target data breach of 2013, where criminals were able to access Target’s server through stolen credentials from a small third-party vendor, also showcases why hackers might want to go for small businesses.

Cybersecurity Best Practices for Small Businesses that Won't Break the Bank

Small business owners might feel helpless against cyberattacks, especially in light of all the new (and expensive) technology recommended for organizations today. However, there are still steps owners can take to protect their companies that don't cost a fortune. 

Assess Your Business Risk

Small businesses must have a clear picture of their cybersecurity risks before making any informed decisions about improving their cybersecurity posture. The first step in improving cybersecurity: cybersecurity risk assessment can identify and help an owner understand what poses an attack risk, and where they can make the biggest improvements, it also identifies where a business is vulnerable, and helps you create a plan of action. 

A good understanding of this risk will guide the choice and implementation of security strategies, process changes, and justify security-related expenses. Without understanding risk, any security decisions made may end up causing more harm than good. Small business owners also need to be prepared, in case of a cyberattack or other cyber-related emergency. This is essential, if owners want to be able to best protect their businesses, employees, and clients in the event of an attack.

Backup Company Data

It is important to have a copy of all company data in a backup repository, in case the organization gets hacked and its data gets erased. Protect sensitive data and back up the rest regularly on all computers. Critical data could be things like word processing documents, electronic spreadsheets, databases, financial files, human resources files, and accounts receivable/payable files.  

Businesses can make use of a backup program that automatically copies files to storage. In the event of an attack, files can be restored from the backups. It is recommended to choose a program that gives the ability to schedule or automate the backup process, so there's no problem remembering to do it. 

Use Antivirus Software and Keep It Updated

Small business owners must equip all business computers and devices with antivirus software and antispyware, available from a variety of vendors, and update them regularly. Antivirus software vendors provide users with patches and updates regularly to correct security problems, improve functionality, and mitigate the ever-changing cybersecurity landscape. 

Configuring all software to install updates automatically makes management easy and systems more secure. Such software should not only offer protection but also technology that helps to clean computer, as needed and reset them to their pre-infected state. Organizations can also set up email spam filters, which filter potential threats and reduce the possibility of a phishing scam. 

Multi-Factor Authentication

Multi-factor identification requires a user to provide multiple verifications of identity before granting access to information. Multi-factor authentication requires additional information like biometrics or simply a security code sent to a phone to log in. Enterprises need to invest in additional security measures that will act as a safety net, in case the weakness of the one means of authentication comes into play.

 The deployment of more secure authentication technology like biometrics has been proven to reduce the many risks that come with passwords like phishing, which account for 46% of cybercrimes because rather than authenticating users on passwords (which are transferable), it also authenticates users on inherent factors (fingerprint and facial recognition), and factors users must possess (key cards and tokens). 

Small businesses can also ensure the adoption of multi-factor authentication by employees and third-party vendors who handle their sensitive data, especially financial information, as getting to a company through its insiders and third-parties is a working strategy for hackers.

Educate Employees about Cybersecurity

In order to safely secure their businesses, small business owners must raise awareness of the risks and mitigation steps across their organizations. They must make sure employees are aware of cybersecurity threats and take precautions to protect themselves and their businesses.

Research shows that 43 percent of data loss stems from internal employees who either maliciously or carelessly give cybercriminals access to organization networks; therefore, establishing basic security principles and policies regarding employees is one of the most important tasks enterprises must undergo to secure themselves against cyberattacks. Employees should be able to identify cybersecurity risks like phishing emails, maintain good security hygiene, and protect sensitive company data.

To protect against threats from within, small businesses need to invest in cybersecurity training for all their employees. Since, in most cybersecurity attacks, the first line of defense is often employees; if properly trained they can contribute to a company’s cybersecurity efforts in several ways. 

Protect Business Assets with Cybersecurity Insurance

Data breaches cost small businesses upwards of $50,000, this could serve as a huge blow to small businesses with already tight budgets. Cybersecurity insurance can help cover the effects associated with cyberattacks and data breaches; data leakage or loss, lost profits after business interruption, investigation costs, legal costs, and more. Many insurance agencies also offer cyber training programs and resources.

Many small business owners purchase insurance policies to reduce the risks of operating a business, including workers’ compensation to general liability, errors and omissions, and more. However, they often overlook the necessity of cyber insurance. In the event of a cyberattack or data breach, cyber insurance helps businesses recover financial losses and pay for recovery steps, such as credit monitoring and notification of affected parties, attorneys’ fees, investigation of the breach, and more.

Conclusion

Cybercriminals do not discriminate between big or small enterprises– everyone and their data is a free game. And the truth is, no matter how small a business seems, chances are they'll get hacked or at least attacked at some point. So small business owners must take decisive action to protect their company’s data and resources. 

By understanding the risks and vulnerabilities they face, developing a cost-friendly and sustainable cybersecurity program, raising employee awareness, and protecting business resources, small business owners can position themselves in a good place to face and better recover from cyberattacks and security breaches.