Most small businesses agree that cybersecurity is a pressing issue, but is your business actually doing anything to prevent attacks?
Just as technology makes life easier for business owners, it leaves entrepreneurs and their customers more vulnerable than ever to cyberattacks. The global cost of cybercrime is expected to reach $2 trillion by 2019, triple the amount from 2015, and studies show small businesses are most at risk.
Firms with fewer than 99 employees lose an average of $35,967 per cyber incident, by far the most on a per employee basis compared to their larger counterparts. As a result, 60 percent of small businesses that suffer a cyberattack are out of business within six months. Smaller firms are often easy targets for cyber thieves because they have less money to spend on digital security, neglect to consistently update their initial systems and do not properly train their employees on how to effectively ward off attacks.
Here are some affordable tips to help keep your business more secure.
Actions speak louder than words
Despite a majority of small businesses expressing concern surrounding cyberattacks, more than half (51 percent) of small businesses are not allocating any budget at all to cybersecurity. It is time small business owners prioritize the threat they cannot see, as 60 percent can expect to be hacked in any given calendar year.
It is vital small business owners don’t cut corners when assessing their cybersecurity budget. With affordable and effective programs such as Webroot, which is easy to download and won’t conflict with other antivirus software, or industry veteran Avast, entrepreneurs don’t have to. At the same time, to most efficiently allocate resources, it is important that small business owners learn the landscape and have an understanding about their most valuable digital assets. For some it can simply be their cash, while for others they may need to put resources toward customer data protection.
Training your gatekeepers
Just as it is imperative small business owners are aware of the latest scams and viruses making the rounds throughout the internet, it is even more vital their employees are trained to detect and ward off attacks as well. For roughly 70 percent of U.S. companies, employee training has significantly reduced the number of cyber hacks and incidents.
A small business’s employees are its gatekeepers, and each member of the team should be knowledgeable about warning signs of cyber-attacks, safe practices and proper ways to respond to an incident. One easy to administer training exercise is to have your IT department or a designated employee send a fake phishing email to your staff to gauge how many people click on it. You can then break down the results by department and types of messages to see where your staff needs work. It is also crucial to emphasize cyber awareness during the onboarding process so employees are mindful of their actions from day one.
Not all cybersecurity is digital
Cybersecurity is not solely fought on the digital front, as it is equally important to protect your servers and computers in the physical world. After all, these devices either store significant company data or provide access to it.
Therefore, be sure to lock your company’s server room and only permit access to trusted IT staff and key personnel. Laptops should be stored away as well, and you can even use device locks or security covers on all of your company’s electronics. These accessories are affordable and easy to use, and are available for a variety of portable and mounted products. If buying physical locks isn’t in the budget, install encryption codes on all devices to ensure they’re in safe hands.
There’s no one size fits all plan when it comes to cybersecurity. But having no software or employee protocol is simply too dangerous when cyberattacks are quickly becoming an epidemic in the small business community. It only takes one hasty click for a bug to spread throughout a company’s entire database, don’t let it be yours.