Why Your Small Business Should Invest in Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity | January 9, 2023

In the age of ever-growing technology, we face ever-growing threats. As it stands, the FBI is worried about another major wave of cyber threats, and small businesses are the prime target. Unfortunately, that’s not a one-off but rather part of a much larger and worsening pattern.

Luckily, there are ways to protect yourself and your data from these threats. Let’s talk about some of the most important reasons to invest in cybersecurity and how you can get started today!

Reasons to Invest in Cybersecurity

Before we give you some tips to protect yourself, we need to understand why. Here are some of the key cybersecurity benefits for your business.

What’s More Valuable Than Data?

To the average modern business, there isn’t much that’s more valuable than data. Whether you realize it or not, businesses of all sizes and industries rely heavily on their data to some extent. Some of the most important examples include:

  • Employee information
  • Client information (contact, payment, personal, etc.)
  • Payment processing data
  • Accounting data
  • Tax information

There are plenty of other examples that may apply to your business. If these fall under HIPAA or similar laws, then nothing is more valuable than your data.

Moreover, if you lock your doors at night to prevent someone from stealing your physical belongings, then why wouldn’t you want to protect your most valuable business asset?

Attacks Are Becoming More Prevalent

Year after year, cyberattacks continue to soar. It seems that every September, we see a new article saying that we’ve already surpassed the previous year’s grand total of cyber attacks.

Password attacks have shown some of the most dramatic increases, with 74% more attacks in 2022 compared to the previous year. As a result, small and medium-sized businesses need protection now more than ever.

Okay, but why businesses? Shouldn’t everyone?

Well, yes. However, smaller businesses are in the “sweet spot” for attackers. They aren’t too small to not be worth an attacker’s time, and they aren’t powerful enough to protect themselves like the US government, although they have the highest potential payout.

Consequently, small and mid-sized businesses are routinely the favorite target for cybercriminals.

Attacks Are Costly

Remember in 2020 when one password attack on the Colonial Pipeline nearly shut down the global economy? Imagine what they’ll do to small businesses that don’t have the resources to recover.

Well, you don’t have to. Believe it or not, 60% of businesses fail within six months of a single breach.

When you think about it, it isn’t too surprising. After a breach, you may owe ransom, have to make a public announcement about data losses, pay applicable fines, and rebuild your business potentially without its most valuable asset. Yes, in 2023, you can assume a business’s data is its most valuable asset.

Unfortunately, that’s hard to recover from. Most ransom attacks cost businesses at least 6-figures. If you don’t have that to spare, then you need to invest in cybersecurity!

Legal Compliance

If your data falls under attorney-client privilege, HIPAA, FERPA, or other privacy laws, then a breach could potentially put you in legal trouble. Without due diligence, a cybercriminal accessing this data could result in serious fines or legal consequences, which can add to the cost of the attack.

Even worse, you could potentially be held liable for the effects. Negligence can result in civil and criminal penalties on the part of the business owner and other responsible parties, regardless of how the data was leaked.

Protecting Your Customers and Employees

It isn’t just your data at stake. By March of this year, there had been 88 publically disclosed breaches in the US. While that doesn’t sound too staggering, this resulted in nearly 4 million breached records.

Moreover, a single attack on Equifax back in 2016 released the private information of 147 million people. Even if you aren’t worried about your own liability or data loss, the effects of small business breaches add up quickly, putting the general public at risk.

There Are Many Avenues For Theft

Stealing your data can come in many forms, and it’s hard to manually protect against all of them on your own. This is especially true if you don’t know what you’re doing. For example, data breaches and/or theft can take place through:

  • Physical theft
  • Hacking
  • Phishing
  • Smishing
  • Ransomware and other malware
  • Compromised passwords
  • Poor network security

The list goes on. None of that even mentions the many ways thieves can complete these attacks.

For example, on top of dozens of different malware, there are countless ways for it to infect your system. Any mobile application, website, or person in your physical location can access your data if it isn’t secured. From “watering hole” scams to infected email files, there are too many potential outlets to worry about.

A Little Goes a Long Way

Last but certainly not least, cybersecurity services don’t have to drain your budget. There are so many small steps you can take that can potentially prevent a disaster.

Primarily, this is because only a small handful of attackers are highly skilled. Therefore, why would they waste their time on small businesses?

Consequently, taking steps to prevent the “small fish” from getting in can require a very small investment, but it could save your business and community from a disaster. Many attackers will simply turn the other way when they detect even minimal security. Let’s talk about some of the steps you can take today!

What Does Cybersecurity Include?

Honestly, it largely depends on the investment you can make. Basic protection will go a long way, but there is no limit to the protection that will help. Even major corporations like Apple are susceptible to breaches.

Still, there are some features that you shouldn’t go without. Here are some of the most important cybersecurity aspects to include in your strategy.

Employee Education

This is at the top because it’s often overlooked. You can have all of the cybersecurity knowledge in the world, but it won’t matter if your employees are left in the dark.

Consequently, staff training is essential. When it comes to social engineering attacks, this is your only line of defense.

Social engineering attacks, like phishing scams, are when attackers use psychological manipulation to access key data or breach your network. While we all know not to open a flagged message with a strange font from someone claiming to be a Nigerian prince in need of financial assistance, attacks are becoming more sophisticated.

Believe it or not, many phishing scams are becoming hard to distinguish with the rise of deep fake technology. A scam could seem as harmless as an email from a trusted coworker asking for a specific file, which is difficult to detect.

For this reason, employees need to understand the essential procedures to take when confronted with a potential social engineering scam. This includes how to spot suspicious activity, follow up with coworkers, and report suspicious activity to the appropriate channels.

Secure File-Sharing and Storage

Most cybersecurity tactics are preventative. Using the right systems to manage your data will make a world of difference.

Moreover, this is especially important for remote workers using various networks and systems with varying levels of security. An encrypted file-sharing platform and cloud-based storage solution will allow you and your employees to access your data from anywhere.

Also, this will simply improve your business processes, especially with a remote desktop. This way, every employee can access their work computers from home, on the road, or wherever they need to.

Use a Virtual Private Network

Again, this is essential for remote workers. If everybody is using different networks with varying security, it leaves you open to an attack. You don’t want employees using public WiFi to handle sensitive data.

As a result, a VPN is a great solution to help ensure that everybody is on the same page. If you have hybrid workers, traveling workers, or fully remote workers/freelancers, this is a great place to start.

Smart Policies

Having the right policies in place can make a world of difference. For example, password protocols, file-sharing tactics, and out-of-network policies need enforcement.

Depending on your system, you can even automate these to have employees change their passwords after certain intervals. Ideally, this should be every 60 to 90 days but no more than six months. Believe it or not, one compromised password led to the Colonial pipeline breach in 2020.

From there, just ensure that employees have access to the right systems for file-sharing, storage, and more.

Use Two-Factor Authentication

Using two-factor authentication on all platforms and programs that manage your sensitive data is a great way to protect your enterprise. You’ve likely used this before, where a system will require both biometrics and a password or a passcode and email verification.

This way, a compromised password won’t necessarily be the end of the world. An attacker may have access to one but can’t get in without the other.

Just ensure that your staff is aware of this change and that they know not to share codes with anyone. Some attackers try to navigate these systems by asking for a verification code.

Protect From Physical Theft

At the very least, keep your doors locked and have cameras in place. An alarm system and round-the-clock security are even better, but some level of physical security is crucial.

One part of protecting your data that’s often overlooked is preventing physical theft. If somebody steals your hard drive, what can you do about it?

Make sure that you back up all of your files on a secure cloud server and keep your physical assets as protected as possible.

Systems Monitoring

Having an extra eye on your systems is arguably the best way to prevent a disaster. The best part is that having managed IT services doesn’t have to break the bank. Outsourcing is much cheaper than hiring an in-house team, but it doesn’t have to limit the quality of your systems monitoring.

Also, having a team of IT professionals on call can help answer any questions and recommend best practices to you. There’s no substitute for having access to professional advice about your systems.

Penetration Testing

There’s no way to improve your systems if you don’t know their issues. An “ethical hacker” can test your systems to see how they hold up and give you a detailed report on how to fix them. This will help prevent skilled hackers who want to infiltrate your system.

Anti-Malware Systems

Anti-malware software is entirely underrated. It’s easy to forget about, so make sure that you have high-quality anti-malware software that runs in the background.

We don’t expect you to remember to run a scan twice a week. Therefore, you need to set it up to automatically detect and remove potential threats. Remember, you can pick up a virus or other malware from anything.

Consequently, your only defense is your anti-malware software. If that malware is left to persist for too long, it will be too late to stop it. From there, you are at the mercy of the attacker.

Invest in Cybersecurity Today

Now that you know the key reasons to invest in cybersecurity follow the steps above and protect your enterprise. Cybersecurity is one of the greatest existential threats to any organization, and attacks are only becoming harder to defend against. With the right tools and assistance, you can protect all of your most valuable assets.

Stay up to date with our latest cybersecurity tips, and don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions or for help with your IT needs!