As an entrepreneur or small business owner, you want to do all you can to promote your company’s success. One valuable step you can take is to proactively safeguard against cybercrime. According to Tech Radar, most business owners anticipate an increase in cyber threats in the future. As companies increasingly shift their operations online, the risk of hackers increases. Prepare accordingly and protect your business with the below guidelines.
Why cybersecurity is a critical concern for small business owners and entrepreneurs
Some small business owners assume that they aren’t an interesting target to hackers because they aren’t running a major corporation. In fact, smaller businesses are often a key target because they are less sufficiently equipped to fight cybercrime. Since they don’t exercise the appropriate precautions, they are easy targets. By taking a proactive interest in cybersecurity, you will avoid falling into this trap.
Understanding the risks that come with cybercrime can help clarify why this is such an important topic for business owners. For example, say a hacker gains access to your corporate databases. They could have access to personal information like your business’s financial details or sensitive data about your customers. This can result in a data leak, which jeopardizes your customers’ trust in your company and makes you look sloppy.
Data leaks are just one risk of cybercrime attacks. Issues like malware can interfere with the functionality of your devices, like phones, tablets, computers, or your internet access. In the worst-case scenario, a savvy cybercriminal can essentially “hijack” your entire network, blocking you and your employees from accessing it. In some cases, hackers have even demanded payment as a ransom in exchange for reinstating access.
All of this can add up to lost time and money, as you will have to interrupt operations to fix the issue. Companies may also have to spend large sums of money on data recovery and securing their networks. In the worst-case scenario, a business may even face pricey lawsuits. For example, customers may sue a business if their personal data is leaked due to the business’ subpar cybersecurity standards.
On top of it all, a cybersecurity breach can be a major blow to a company’s reputation. For small businesses and entrepreneurs that are just starting out, this can be tough to recover from. A bad reputation can result in lost customers and make it more difficult to grow. Note that companies are legally bound to share information about security breaches impacting customers, so there’s no way to hide a hack—not to mention, it’s unethical.
Best practices to minimize the risk of an attack on your business
Ideally, you will be able to avoid a cyberattack on your business completely. There are many steps you can take towards this end. The first thing you should do is educate yourself about potential attacks. Learn about common cyber threats like malware, SQL injection, denial of service, and emotet. Understanding threats and what they look like will help you avoid them. The U.S. Small Business Administration provides a guide to common problems.
Next, work on securing your business internet. You likely have an in-house WiFi network that employees use regularly. Ensure that it has a strong password composed of a mix of letters, numbers, and symbols. You can further secure your WiFi network using a virtual private network, VPN, and a firewall. Finally, make sure to change the WiFi password every few months, just to be on the safe side.
Any workplace devices should likewise be secured by a strong password meeting the aforementioned criteria. This includes tablets, computers, and phones. This way, if a piece of technology is stolen, criminals will have a harder time gaining access to it. Any workplace accounts like email should also be password-protected and, ideally, have two-factor authentication activated.
Finally, make sure that all employees are regularly updating their devices. While it’s tempting to simply click “Remind Me Later” when device updates are suggested, this is a major mistake. Operating system updates are often initiated in response to potential security threats. Failing to update the OS can thus leave you vulnerable to attacks. Make sure to remind employees to update their devices when prompted as well.
What to do if your business is the target of a cyber attack
If your business is the target of a cyberattack, it’s important to take immediate action. The first step is to secure your devices, networks, databases, and accounts. This entails changing all passcodes. You will also need to have an IT expert scan devices to ensure there isn’t malicious software secretly installed as a result of the attack. If data has been lost or stolen, an IT expert can also help with this.
An IT security professional can help you in the recovery process. A comprehensive recovery plan will outline exactly what steps to take in case of a breach. You’ll need to identify which applications are affected and prioritize which ones to recover first according to a set timeline. A recovery plan will also detail which individuals in your organization are responsible for which recovery efforts.
Beyond the technical aspects of recovery, you also need to consider a crisis communications plan. As mentioned, businesses are obligated to inform customers in case their data has been leaked in a breach. Consider how you will communicate this news to your clients and what you can do to minimize the damage. Having a crisis communications plan in place in advance will allow for fast action.
Ideally, good disaster recovery and communication measures are chockful of detail that cover every sensitive aspect of cybersecurity. As you develop a plan for your small business, you have an option to create a calendar planner to help you stay on top of each deliverable and on track with your rollout schedule. Visual elements like sticky notes can also keep you organized as you go through the other demands of your day.
Going forward, look into ways to streamline your operations and make them more secure. Software solutions like those from StartingPoint can help. Their tools include customer and help desk, project management, workflow management functions, and more. Having a reliable partner for your SaaS solutions will simplify your business operations and enhance your teams’ overall efficiency.
The thought of a cyber attack damaging your business is a scary one. However, it doesn’t have to mean disaster. There are many things you can do to protect your company. Follow the above guide to get started.
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