Owning a small business isn’t easy. You need to wear many hats at once and focus on growing your business. Between managing your business, dealing with your day-to-day operations, and managing your employees and customers, it’s understandably easy to overlook developing things like a cybersecurity strategy. After all, cybercriminals are after the big bucks, right?
Sadly, the fact is that cybercriminals look for anything they can hack into and know that small businesses are more likely to overlook strengthening their cybersecurity than large conglomerates who have the teams and budgets in place to protect themselves. The U.S. Small Business Bureau reports that cyberattacks cost small businesses 2.8 billion dollars in 2020 while Verizon‘s 2021 Data Breach Investigations Report states 46% of breaches impacted small and midsize businesses. These are numbers that cannot be ignored.
Understanding Attacks on SMEs
There are multiple reasons why hackers may want to get into the systems of a small business. While financial gain is the most obvious, gaining access to sensitive customer data and identity theft is another.
According to Verizon, ransomware attacks are the most common, followed by password attacks (where hackers steal user names and passwords to gain access), malware attacks and phishing. While great antivirus software does help, there is no one size fits all approach to protecting your business from these attacks. For example, antivirus software cannot protect you from a data breach caused by a social engineering attack. This is why a cyber security strategy needs to be implemented on various different fronts, including the physical world to protect your business from tailgating attacks.
Apart from the financial losses, cyber security attacks also affect a business by:
- Damaging their reputation in the industry or with customers.
- Development secrets fall into competitors’ hands.
- Customer compensation costs.
Building an Effective Cybersecurity Strategy
Creating an effective cybersecurity strategy is the need of the hour to avoid becoming a target. A general outline of how to build one is as follows:
1. Assess Security Risks
Every business and its digital setup is unique. Identifying key areas where attacks may occur is the first step toward building your cybersecurity strategy. You need to identify your business’s most valuable data assets, where they are stored and their vulnerabilities to attacks. For example, if your employees use personal devices for work, their security needs to be addressed.
2. Safeguard Access to Networks
Firewalls, VPNs, and secure Wi-Fi networks are vital. This will help monitor incoming and outgoing traffic and act as a barrier between your sensitive data and the world wide web. Limiting the use of personal devices and apps on your networks can also help protect your business as hackers may use vulnerabilities in third-party apps to gain access.
Use two-factor authentication apps as a first line of defence against hackers.
3. Software Updates and Patches
Assess the current state of your OS and antivirus software. Regular update schedules and monitoring for security patches can help protect against the latest threats. Cloud computing with automated updates can be a secure way to protect and store data.
4. Data Backups
Speaking of cloud computing. Having your data backed up securely in an encrypted location can help you access it in case of a ransomware attack where access to your regular networks may be denied to you.
5. Build Employee Awareness
Many attacks are caused by targeting people like phishing attacks or other social engineering attacks. Instill the importance of a ‘zero trust’ policy in your employees and train them to be aware of the potential threats out there. Apex 365 offers bite-sized end-user awareness training to help keep your employees up to date with the latest cybersecurity measures without getting overwhelmed.
6. Get External Help
As small business owners, we understand that it can be hard to compete with the bigger players when it comes to allocating resources to cybersecurity. Outsourcing your cybersecurity can give you access to teams of cybersecurity experts who can address vulnerabilities in various parts of your system.
Apex 365 offers end-to-end cybersecurity services to SMEs to put them on par with larger organizations without breaking the bank. We offer customized solutions to give you the comprehensive cybersecurity you need to proactively protect your business.