Small businesses are at an increased risk of cyberattacks. However, many small business owners believe that they’re “too small to have to worry about cybersecurity”. In reality, online criminals are well aware that small businesses often lack the budget and technical know-how to correctly protect themselves. This makes them a softer target.
The risks of a successful cyberattack are also magnified for smaller companies. Even if they take a hit to their reputation, large businesses are unlikely to go out of business after being hacked. However, smaller organisations tend to run on far slimmer margins. Because of this, a sustained period of downtime could easily be enough to put them out of business for good.
Despite what many businesses might like to think, there’s no business that’s too small to have to worry about cybersecurity. This is because most of today’s cyber-attacks are automated. Modern hacking tools can scan thousands of networks for vulnerabilities and execute attacks automatically when they find an open door. Unfortunately, these automated tools make no distinction between a multinational and a sole trader.
Cybersecurity Risks For Small Businesses
Damage To Your Reputation
No matter which industry you are in, maintaining customer confidence is key. If your business has a reputation for not being able to properly protect its customers, it will have a negative effect on its financial prospects. Similarly, if your business is not reliable and you suffer from frequent downtime, customers will go to your competitors instead.
Successful ransomware attacks can render your business unable to operate for a sustained period of time. If you are unable to access your CRM, process payments, or track your stock, it can be nearly impossible to operate. Hospitals have even had to cancel surgeries after being unable to access medical records due to ransomware.
The UK and Gibraltar has some of the strictest data protection laws in the world. If your customer data is leaked because of poor data security, you could be in for a hefty fine from regulators. Beyond data protection laws, certain sectors such as the legal or financial industries have their own specific regulations.
What Can You Do to Protect Your Business from Cyberthreats?
As a small business, you might feel helpless against cyberattacks. Fortunately, you can take steps to protect your company, bringing many benefits to your organization. Here's what you can do to get started.
Employees can leave your business vulnerable to an attack. Research shows that 43 percent of data loss stems from internal employees who either maliciously or carelessly give cybercriminals access to your networks.
There are many scenarios that could result in employee-initiated attacks. These can be an employee losing a work tablet or giving away login credentials. They can also include opening fraudulent emails, which deploys viruses on the network.
To protect against threats from within, invest in cybersecurity training for your employees. Educate them what they should do if they get for example a suspicious email.
Perform Risk Assessment
Evaluate potential risks that might compromise the security of your company's networks, systems and information. Identifying and analyzing possible threats can help you formulate a plan to plug any gaps in security.
As part of your risk assessment efforts, examine where and how your data is stored and who has access to it. Identify who may want to access the data and how they may try to obtain it. Determine the risk levels of possible events and how breaches can potentially impact the company.
Once this analysis is complete and you've identified threats, use the information you've gained to develop or refine your security strategy. Review and revise the security strategy at regular intervals and when you make any substantial changes to information storage and usage. This helps you provide more extensive protection for your data.
Deploy Antivirus Software
You need antivirus software that can protect all of your devices from viruses, spyware, ransomware and phishing scams. Make sure the software not only offers protection, but also technology that helps you clean computers as needed and resets them to their pre-infected state.
Keep Software Updated
The software that you use to keep your business running should be up to date. Every piece of software is updated with regularity to strengthen it or add patches that close coding loopholes hackers can slide through.
Back Up Your Files Regularly
Does your company back up its files? If a cyberattack happens, data could be compromised or deleted. If that happens, could your business still run? Given the amount of data you might store on laptops and cell phones, most businesses wouldn't be able to function.
To help, rely on a backup program that automatically copies your files to storage. In the event of an attack, you can restore all of your files from your backups. Choose a program that gives you the ability to schedule or automate the backup process so you don't have to remember to do it. Store copies of backups offline so they don't become encrypted or inaccessible if your system suffers a ransomware attack.
Avoiding Cheap Options
You don't want a company that comes in, installs some software and disappears. A company claiming to specialize in one field without offering additional products or support can't provide the protection you need