The prevailing idea seems to be that cybersecurity is only something large enterprises can afford – and something small businesses can afford to ignore. The reality couldn’t be further from the truth. You need to put some money away for cybersecurity. Because if you don’t, it could spell disaster.
Whenever we see something bad happen to someone else, we like to think that it’d never happen to us. It’s human nature. Oddly enough, there are few places this tendency is more evident than in the business world, particularly with small business owners.
These days, you can’t turn on the news without hearing about some business that misplaced its customer records, or got hit with ransomware, or suffered a targeted attack. The one thing these stories always seem to share in common is that the victim is a major organization – a company like Facebook, Target, or Equifax. Bearing that in mind, you’d be forgiven for thinking that such companies are the only ones that need to worry about being victimized by cyber-criminals.
You’d also be woefully mistaken.
Small and mid-sized businesses suffer from cyber-attacks with just as much frequency as large enterprises. According to a recent report by Verizon, 61% of data breach victims are small businesses. Earlier research carried out by the National Cybersecurity Alliance found most small businesses that suffer a breach don’t survive.
Like most small business owners, cybersecurity probably isn’t front of mind for you. You’ve got way more important stuff to take care of – way more important stuff to spend your money on. That needs to change.
Because the only real difference between you and a larger organization is that you’re less likely to suffer a targeted attack. Most of the time, whoever’s going after you is doing so because you happen to be there. So…what can you do to prevent that?
The good news is that you don’t need to spend an arm and a leg on protecting your business’s data. Even a few minor improvements can make a major difference in your security posture. With that in mind, my first few pieces of advice won’t actually cost you anything but a bit of time and effort.
- Make sure you and your employees are using strong passwords for all your logins, be they for software or devices. Brute force attacks rely on people who don’t bother with decent passwords. Use an online tool to help you determine if your password is good enough, and make sure you also use something other than the default username.
- Make sure all of the software your business uses is up to date – and that you never skip a patch. The lion’s share of cyber-attacks that succeed only do so because their victims forgot to update. Don’t make that same mistake.
- Consider too how you’re controlling access to sensitive data. Are you monitoring the servers on which customer information is stored? Are you restricting access to people who need it to do their jobs?
- Work with your staff to devise acceptable use policies for mobile devices, a disaster recovery/crisis response policy that you can turn to in the event of a cyber attack, and training programs that will help them learn the basics of cybersecurity. Here’s where you might need to start spending a bit of money. If you don’t have a dedicated IT worker, I’d strongly advise either hiring one or working with a cybersecurity contractor.
Speaking of cost, you should also invest in a decent antivirus. Webroot or Bitdefender are probably your best bets there, though Malwarebytes is also a decent choice. A dedicated firewall is a must too – look into SonicWall, Sophos, or Watchguard. Lastly, if you can afford them (and justify the purchase), applications to help you control sensitive files and mobile devices within your business are also good options.
Cybersecurity doesn’t have to break the bank, but it does need to be in your budget as a small business owner. It doesn’t matter what size your organization is. You have something criminals want – and they’ll stop at nothing to get it.
It’s your job to make sure they don’t succeed.
About the Author:
Max Emelianov started HostForWeb in 2001. In his role as HostForWeb’s CEO, he focuses on teamwork and providing the best support for his customers while delivering cutting-edge web hosting services