Small businesses are an easy target for cyber attacks. Their limited resources and lack of IT staff make it difficult to properly secure their data and adhere to cybersecurity guidelines. Cybercriminals are well aware of this and take advantage.
Small business owners would be better off hiring a professional cybersecurity firm to protect their company, rather than investing the time needed to understand IT security. But it is still vital for small businesses to recognize cyber risks and know what steps they should take every step of the way.
Why Small Businesses Especially Need Cybersecurity
Small businesses are considered high-value targets for cybercriminals because they possess more valuable data than larger companies.
Most small businesses don’t have the proper security solution in place, which makes them more susceptible to attacks than an enterprise with stronger security measures.
Prevent Attacks by Understanding Cybersecurity
When it comes to cybersecurity, small businesses are just as important as large enterprises. If your business does not have the time or expertise to invest in security measures, there is no reason to think you are exempt from cyber risk; on the contrary, you should be even more aware of potential dangers and take proactive measures.
If you fail to invest in IT security, you increase your chances of becoming a victim of a cyberattack.
Best Practices for Small Businesses to Prevent Cyber Attacks
There are a number of steps small businesses can take to secure their information and prevent an attack.
Install a Firewall
A firewall is perhaps the most basic security measure small businesses can incorporate to prevent external attacks. All incoming and outgoing traffic should go through the firewall, which will filter out any suspicious activity. If you’re not tech-savvy, consider hiring a consultant to get your firewall up and running.
Protect Your Devices
Make sure all of the devices that connect to the internet (computers, tablets, phones etc.) are protected with antivirus/antimalware software and are regularly updated.
Back-up Your Data
Backups serve as a safety net in the unlikely event that your information is compromised. Ensure you have a solid backup plan no matter what happens, whether it’s an internal or external data breach.
Back up all of your important electronic files either to an external source or to another location offsite so you can restore them if they are stolen, deleted or corrupted by ransomware.
Use Strong Passwords
A cyberattack can occur faster than you may think. Therefore, the easiest way to thwart an attack is by having strong passwords for your devices and accounts that are difficult to guess or hack. The longer it takes for an adversary to get into your system, the more time there is for security measures to take effect—and the more likely you are to be notified of an attack.
Create a Cybersecurity Policy
Many small businesses don’t have written security policies, but establishing one will reassure employees that the business takes IT security seriously. It also serves as proof of due diligence against cyber liability claims. A strong security policy should contain rules on password strength, what devices are allowed on the network, antivirus software installation and updates etc.
Be Vigilant About Security Breaches
If you suspect that your business may have been a target of a cyberattack, or if it has become the victim of one, immediately take these steps: call the police so they can launch a formal investigation. Notify your insurance agent so they can review the policy and determine if you have coverage for cyber liability. Have a cybersecurity consultancy analyze your system to find any flaws or vulnerabilities that may have been exploited by hackers.
Consult Your Insurance Company
Call insurance companies to see if they offer any special cyber liability coverage or endorsements and tailor your coverage accordingly. If you don’t have an existing cybersecurity insurance policy, consider buying one now before a large-scale attack occurs.
Keep Up-to-Date with Security Measures
With all of the current cyber threats out there, it is important to stay abreast of what steps you can take to protect your business from them. Security professionals recommend consulting reputable security or IT firms for assistance with your security measures. And remember, small businesses should never attempt to go alone on IT security.
It’s undeniable that information technology has transformed the way we live and work. But these advancements have also introduced a variety of risks, which is why cybersecurity needs to become a priority for every business—regardless of its size. With this in mind, if you are a small business owner with questions about security, seek the advice of your employees or an IT specialist.
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