Don’t think cybersecurity for SMBs is important? Think again. At least 47% of all businesses in the US experience some cyber attack. The cost? Upwards of $18,000 per attack.
Cybersecurity is often top of mind. Creating strong passwords, setting up firewalls, and educating yourself on the latest cybersecurity trends are necessary to give your company a fighting chance against cyberattacks.
But why is cybersecurity for small businesses so critical? From protecting confidential data to maintaining customer trust, there are many reasons why investing in proper security measures for SMBs should be a top priority.
This guide will go into greater detail about building a solid cybersecurity foundation. Let’s get started!
The Importance of Cybersecurity for SMBs
Cybersecurity is an essential concern for small and medium-sized businesses. These days, anything can happen online. Not only do SMBs need to protect their information from hackers. They also have to ensure they’re compliant with federal cybersecurity regulations.
Therefore, cybersecurity needs to be a priority for SMBs to protect themselves and their customers. However, implementing basic cybersecurity measures like firewalls or investing in cybersecurity software is quite simple. You’ve got thousands of options to choose from these days.
Understanding why you’re implementing these measures is the first step.
Cyber threats have increased by 81% since the start of the pandemic. Hackers saw an opportunity to attack vulnerable systems and jumped at it. Many SMBs were targeted due to their lack of cybersecurity expertise and resources to invest in such services.
It’s an unfortunate byproduct of automation. As we all know, almost everybody went remote in 2020. Employees started accessing sensitive data from their computers and using unsafe or unstable internet connections. Currently, many employees are still working remotely. Even if employees aren’t remote, businesses share more data online than ever.
As more and more processes become automated, small businesses must equip themselves with the necessary protection to stay afloat. Cyber attackers can hijack or disrupt your company’s operations if you’re not focusing on protecting business data.
As we become more connected to the internet, protecting your customer data is not only a responsibility of your business but part of protecting your customers’ privacy. Companies are now expected to put extra energy into protecting their data from malicious cyber attacks by investing in robust security protocols and updating their security systems.
Not only do these measures protect your customers’ sensitive information, but they can help you build trust with potential customers. It’s all part of maintaining a good reputation. In today’s competitive market, doing so can boost your bottom line.
The way that employees access work information is changing drastically. Employees use multiple interfaces for everyday tasks, with many people working remotely. This includes conferencing and data entry.
Instead of working in an office, workers are accessing work information on their phones, tablets, and even their family laptop computers. This expansion of multiple interfaces requires a new security approach when protecting sensitive company data.
Your business must have multiple safeguards. It would be best if you tailored them not only to various devices but also to multiple users. Doing so will ensure your corporate security remains intact.
Common Cyber Threats
What should you be looking for as you boost your company’s cybersecurity measures? It depends. However, there are a few common cyber threats that a business of any size can work to prevent.
Phishing attempts often appear to come from trustworthy sources, making it difficult for employees to identify them. To help protect your organization and its data, educating your staff on phishing techniques is essential so they can recognize and avoid these scams.
Many phishing attempts offer effective ploys such as time-sensitive clicks or great deals. Emphasize to staff that offers which seem too good to be accurate are likely phishing attempts. Ensure they know clicking links or providing personal information can lead to a security breach.
Malware is software designed to cause harm or disrupt networks and computers. Malware can spread fast, causing data breaches and significant disruptions in IT systems. To prevent malware attacks, you can educate your employees about potential threats and have strategies to protect against malware.
These include the following tactics:
- Installing malware protection software across devices
- Creating and enforcing strict password policies among users
- Segregating network access points where possible
- Backing up all important data
- Ensuring employees use trustworthy websites only
Ultimately, it all comes down to education. Ensuring your employees understand what to look for can help prevent malware attacks before they occur.
Weak passwords are a significant risk for most small and medium businesses. This is because if there’s a breach of just one weak password, the whole business becomes an easy target for cyber attacks. This can lead to hackers stealing or destroying confidential information.
To stop this from happening to your business, every employee must understand the importance of creating strong passwords and changing them. What’s a good rule of thumb here? We recommend long, complex passwords, including numbers, symbols, and upper and lowercase letters.
Another thing you can do to improve the security of your work passwords is to introduce multi-factor authentication. This provides an additional layer of security. Overall, multi-factor authentication can significantly reduce the risk of cyber-attacks when combined with strong passwords.
Have you heard about the massive Yandex ranking factors leak that occurred at the end of January 2023? A former Yandex employee stole the search engine’s algorithm code. He then tried to sell it online before going public with it. While this didn’t necessarily affect the company’s cybersecurity, it does affect the business’s bottom line.
The moral of the story here? Employees can be one of the biggest cyber threats to an SMB. Therefore, it’s important not to give employees access to any confidential information. You can also create an additional layer of protection by having employees sign contracts that legally bind them against leaking or stealing information.
It’s important to show your employees that you trust them. Give them space to feel comfortable in the workplace. However, protect your company and its data at the same time.
How to Evaluate Your Business’s Cyber Risk
Periodically evaluating cybersecurity risk is essential to maintaining a successful business. It’s important to assess your system’s vulnerability to cyber threats and identify areas for improvement. How can you do this effectively?
It all starts with assessing your current security systems. Taking the time to examine your systems and data can help you identify the processes most critical to your business. These are the ones you want to safeguard from cyber threats. From there, you can identify potential threats or vulnerabilities.
All in all, it comes down to ensuring you have good cyber security practices. This includes using strong authentication and encrypting sensitive information. Additionally, emphasize cyber security awareness among your staff and partners. They should know good cyber hygiene practices to follow.
How to Develop an SMB Cybersecurity Strategy
Assessing your company’s cyber risk is only the first step. Once you understand your business’s vulnerability, you’ll want to create an SMB cybersecurity plan. These plans are at the core of cybersecurity for SMBs. If you’re not sure where to start, follow these tips.
Familiarize Yourself With Common Cyber Threats
We talked briefly about the common cyber threats above. That’s a great place to start. What else is there to know about cyber threats for SMBs, though?
One way to start is to audit all technologies used in the business and understand what areas need extra protection. Researching online also provides great insight into common risks, scams, and malware. It’s especially helpful to look at common cyber threats for businesses in the same industry.
The most important thing to remember is that common threats can come from various sources. They don’t always originate from the web. Focus on identifying common vulnerabilities and their respective solutions. This will go a long way in protecting your business online, both on the website and at large.
Create Security Protocols
As an SMB, creating security protocols can seem overwhelming and complex. However, several easy steps exist to create robust and secure protocols that help protect your business.
First, create a data classification policy. This will help you decide what information you should label confidential or private. Next, create a policy to outline how you will transmit sensitive data internally or externally.
Additionally, create policies that mandate strong passwords and enable two-factor authentication for added security. It’s also wise to ensure all computers have up-to-date anti-virus software, so your system is safe from malicious attacks.
Taking the time to create these policies may seem tedious, we know. However, it will provide your business with peace of mind for years.
Train Your Employees
You hopefully know by now that cybersecurity threats can severely damage systems and finances. That’s why it’s essential to ensure that your team is well-informed and knows the do’s and don’ts in addition to recognizing potential risks.
Instruction should include topics such as the following:
- Password security
- Avoiding phishing scams
- Safe browsing
- Malware attack prevention
- Data safety
These workshops should be frequent enough for everyone to stay up-to-date with the latest forms of cybercrime. However, you don’t want to overwhelm your staff. Where you can, provide them with SMB cybersecurity tools. These tools will make it easy for them to follow your security protocols.
Backup Your Data Regularly
Backing up your business data regularly is an integral part of cybersecurity. Those backups will save you in the worst-case scenario if there’s a ransomware attack or a data breach.
With reliable, up-to-date backups, you won’t have to worry about losing any of your valuable company information. Not backing up your data leaves you at risk. That’s exactly what you don’t want to happen. It’s not even entirely about cyber attacks, either. If you have multiple backups, you can rest assured that your business data is safe if one backup gets damaged.
Building a cybersecurity plan that includes regular data backups will give you and your business peace of mind. Please don’t wait until it’s too late. Start backing up today.
Are Cybersecurity Services Enough?
Does all of this cyber threats talk make you think you need cybersecurity services? If so, we’d agree. Businesses of any size can benefit from SMB cybersecurity services. But are they enough?
Yes! They not only protect from cyberattacks, but they can also help employees learn more about cybersecurity and how to stay safe online. However, it would help if you worked with the right provider.
When choosing a provider, it’s important to do your research to ensure they have the experience and expertise you need and that their services match the specific needs of your business. Look for products and technologies that are easy to use, reasonably priced, and backed by good customer service.
The right cybersecurity services can help protect most SMBs from data leaks, cyberattacks, and more.
Let Us Be Your Digital Security Team
At EMPIST, cybersecurity for SMBs in Chicagoland is our top priority.
Keeping businesses of any size safe while navigating the complicated digital landscape is essential. That’s why we provide all the tools and resources you need to remain secure and stay ahead of cybersecurity threats.
If you’re interested in learning more about how we can help your business, don’t hesitate to contact us today so we can discuss your cybersecurity needs.