Small business owners have a lot to worry about. What many may not know, however, is that some of the biggest threats to small businesses aren’t competitors and fickle consumer trends. Instead, many of these threats lurk where they cannot be seen until it’s too late. This includes threats like malware, viruses, hackers, cyber criminals and more. If you want to defend your company from these threats, you must increase the IT security of your small business.
Even if your company is small, you cannot overlook the importance of training your employees on cybersecurity. For one, you should be aware of the fact that 47 percent of cybersecurity events happen as the result of employee negligence. This is, in fact, the number one cause of cybersecurity breaches. What is distressing is the employee isn’t really at fault a vast majority of the time. Instead, it’s the company’s fault that those employees weren’t properly trained on how to uphold high standards of cybersecurity while on the clock. Such training will require extra expense and resources, but it will always be worth it if it prevents a major breach from happening.
One business buzzword from a few years ago was BYOD. This stands for Bring Your Own Device. This was a policy that told employers it was a great idea to have employees use their own laptops, phones and tablets for completing work while in the office. The argument was that doing so would slash costs because the company wouldn’t have to spend money on computer hardware. In retrospect, this policy is somewhat idiotic from a cybersecurity standpoint. One of the reasons why a company should supply employees with computers is to maintain strict scrutiny over what happens on those computers and who gains access to the company network. This ability to gate-keep access completely disappears when employees use their own home devices in the office. The security vulnerabilities become glaring. Even malware and viruses can be directly transferred from their personal devices to the entire network. It’s simply not worth the risk.
Very few small business owners are actually experts when it comes to information technology. This can present some problems. Knowledge of cybersecurity is certainly required to safely operate your business in the modern day. Without it, you will undoubtedly be successfully targeted by hackers and other malicious actors. However, directly adding IT professionals on your payroll to help you craft and manage a cybersecurity plan that works is too cost-prohibitive for most small businesses. Instead, you should consider obtaining IT security as a service for your business. This way, your cybersecurity needs will be taken care of by professionals without having to hire an expensive in-house employee to handle that work. That way, you’ll receive much more affordable bills for the work that is done to close the security gaps in your network and elsewhere that could be exploited by those wishing to do your company harm.
In most cases, a cybersecurity event will involve your network being breached by an outsider. This outsider’s goal may be to get copies of sensitive data concerning your customers and use it to steal their identities and defraud them of as much money as possible. In a worst case scenario, your business’s reputation may be destroyed and you may end up being sued by customers that believe you are responsible for not better guarding against such an intrusion. Overall, maintaining cybersecurity requires limiting access. As few people as possible should have network log-ins. If an employee does not require access to your network, do not grant them access. In fact, in many cases, only the small business owner requires that access. Make sure to use password log-ins that require long and complex passwords that cannot be easily cracked by hackers. Consider changing that password every few months to increase your security even more. Use encryption to ensure that data remains secure even if it is accessed by an outsider.
You must take cybersecurity very seriously. The steps above are only a starting point for what you should do to protect your company, your data and your customers from the many threats lurking on the internet. If you don’t, the results could be disastrous for your company.