Think cybersecurity isn’t a threat to your business? Think again! Small businesses are frequently targets of cybercrime. Because small businesses tend to have less sophisticated cybersecurity defenses, they’re easier targets compared to big brands. Remember, fraud and data breaches can happen to anyone.
To protect your business, it’s important to implement strategies to prevent cyberattacks and create a recovery plan in case one does occur. In this article, the Perdido Key Area Chamber of Commerce shares some great tips and tricks to help you shield your business from cybercrime.
Why Small Businesses Should Care About Cybersecurity
Believe it or not, two-thirds of companies with fewer than 1,000 employees have experienced a cyberattack. Hackers target small businesses for a number of reasons. For example, Wired.com explains that criminals go after valuable data like medical records, social security information, and credit card numbers which are easy to sell for profit on the Dark Web. Some cyberattacks target computing power, leveraging a company’s computers and servers to execute a larger attack on another organization. Hackers might also go after your cash, installing ransomware on your systems and freezing your business until you pay the desired sum.
Just think what these kinds of attacks would mean for your business. Your business will experience significant disruptions, you could lose access to important data, and your reputation will suffer irreparable damage. Your customers may become angry or hesitant to do business with you in the future. You might even face fines under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
Many small businesses don’t recover from cyber attacks. And when they do, the majority of these surviving companies shut down within six months. Don’t leave your business vulnerable to this same fate!
Start With Strong Passwords
Passwords are one of your first lines of defense against hackers. By creating strong passwords, you can make it very difficult for people or bots to decipher your login information and access your business accounts. Many people think that complex passwords are the best defense against attack. But when it comes to security, lengthy passphrases are better than short passwords with random combinations of alphanumeric characters and symbols. Plus, passphrases made up of words are much easier to remember than shorter lists of random characters. Regardless of the method you use to create and remember strong passwords, remember to change your passwords regularly!
Encrypt Sensitive Documents
Encryption is key for keeping sensitive information out of the hands of cybercriminals. Encryption is a method of scrambling data so that it can only be accessed by those who are authorized to view it. Even if hackers find a way to access these documents—by intercepting emails or logging on to your business computer—they won’t be able to read the information. When you encrypt a file, authorized users are still able to read the contents.
Take advantage of digital tools to encrypt documents containing important business information. For example, you can use a PDF merger tool to scan multiple paper documents into a single PDF and encrypt these for secure storage on your computer or in the cloud. Scanning documents into one PDF makes it easier to store, share, and manage important business information. By digitizing these documents and storing them securely, you can reduce the risk that they fall into the wrong hands.
Train Employees on Cybersecurity Best Practices
Your employees play an important role in your cybersecurity preparedness plan. PreyProject.com explains that malicious parties can use your employees' devices to gain access to your entire business network. They may do this through the use of phishing emails, social engineering attacks, malware, and device theft.
Make sure your employees understand their responsibility to protect your business. Encourage them to take good care of their devices, create strong passwords, and avoid working on public wi-fi connections. You can also teach your employees how to spot potential attacks. For example, make sure they know what phishing emails look like and what to do if they suspect one in their inbox. There are plenty of online resources that can train your employees on cybersecurity awareness, many of which are free!
Hire a Cybersecurity Consultant
When in doubt, don’t hesitate to hire a consultant. A cybersecurity consultant can help identify problems in your cybersecurity strategy that might not be obvious to you. They can also assess your risk of experiencing an attack and implement solutions to defend against threats. Because these professionals have robust experience in the cybersecurity industry, they’ll offer suggestions perfectly tailored to your specific business needs.
Backup Your Data
Backing up your data ensures you can get back up and running quickly after an attack. Even if you’re confident that you can prevent any cyber-attacks that come your way, you should always maintain accurate backups of your data. You just never know what might happen! A strong business data backup strategy involves a combination of cloud backup solutions, external hard drives, and data backup software. Keeping multiple backup copies in different locations ensures you’ll be able to restore your data regardless of which systems or devices were compromised in the data loss event.
Create a Recovery Plan
Creating a recovery plan will help you respond to attacks quickly so you can minimize losses. One important element to include in your recovery plan is how you intend to isolate impacted systems so malware and viruses cannot spread to other devices. You’ll also want to make alternative communication arrangements so you can stay in touch with employees and stakeholders if your systems go down due to an attack.
Cybersecurity recovery preparedness also involves planning how you’re going to share the news with people affected by an attack. Customers will not like to hear that their data has been stolen. Planning out this difficult message ahead of time will help you think of ways to soften the blow and minimize the impact on your reputation. Include an offer of support to impacted customers, let them know how they can best protect themselves, and start rebuilding trust by describing the steps you will take to prevent the attack from happening again.
This is also a good time to find a reputable data recovery professional who you can call for help in the event that you cannot recover your data on your own. Whether you’re looking for individuals or agencies, check the number of years they’ve been in data recovery services. Find out if they have experience dealing with a variety of data loss events, including mechanically damaged drives and malware. You’ll also want to ask about the time it takes to recover data and check reviews left by previous customers.
The importance of cybersecurity preparedness cannot be overstated. By taking steps to protect your business from attacks, you can avoid disastrous data loss scenarios that can ruin your reputation or shut your business down completely. There’s no better time than the present to train your employees, encrypt your PDF documents, create stronger passwords, and consult a professional for antivirus and antimalware suggestions. By taking these steps and implementing a strong recovery plan “just in case,” you’ll be prepared for anything!