There was a time you could run a small business with a bank account, a telephone, an internet connection and some sort of physical base. These days, cybersecurity has been added to this list as a necessity nearly every small business owner needs to consider. This is especially true for small businesses such as law offices or accounting firms that deal with a client’s highly sensitive information.
Despite recognising the need for effective IT security to guard against the next cyberattack, 83% of businesses say organisational difficulties put their company at risk, according to a global survey conducted by Citrix. In addition, 74% of businesses say they need a new IT framework to improve security and reduce risk.
Because of the highly technical and complicated nature of cyberattacks, many small business owners don’t understand the enormity of these threats, and most learn the hard way.
Recently, CBS reported a drastic rise in phishing scams. In 2017, 200 organisations were victims of a phishing scam that resulted in the theft of the data of several hundred thousand employees.
“Because most of the news coverage happens when big companies like Equifax or Target are attacked, many small business owners mistakenly believe that only larger companies are at risk of a security breach,” says Nate Spilker, Vice President, Product Management at Citrix. “The fact is, the majority of cyberattacks will have a detrimental impact on small businesses if they do not have a cybersecurity plan in place.”
Cybersecurity is a very real and very serious matter, but the more you know about it, the better you can prepare against an attack. These seven steps lay the groundwork for establishing an advanced and cost-effective way for small businesses to better guard against the ever-present reality of a cyberattack.
- Assess current security tools
Your company’s data is only as safe as the technology it employs. Instead of thinking how well protected you are, consider bringing in an outside consultant to expose your vulnerabilities. This will help you to honestly analyse the current tools your company uses and understand where you can improve.
- Invest in staffing
It can be challenging for a small business to hire new employees. However, hiring knowledgeable and experienced security personnel might be the most important step you can take to protect your business.
- Encrypt your data
Many business-class cloud services employ encryption technology, which transforms data in an indecipherable code that can only be opened with a specific key as it travels between secure destinations.
- Think beyond passwords
91% of security professionals think passwords will be a thing of the past within a decade. Many security experts now recommend user authentication technology to make protecting data both easier and more effective.
- Use a consolidated platform
By implementing a secure, company-wide tool that is capable of file sharing, storing and document signing as well as remote desktop access, employees will be more collaborative and productive. They will also be able to work from anywhere, on any device, at any time.
- Create and enforce a standard IT policy
Make it a priority for employees to understand the security risks involved with using unapproved applications.
- Be proactive
Stay updated on the latest developments and concerns in the cybersecurity landscape and how you can improve your company’s defences. For instance, take the time to review how the ever-expanding Internet of Things (IoT) can both benefit and add new security risks to your company.