Hackers like to pick on the little guy.
While most of the media attention is focused on cyber-attacks against major retailers, these retailers can at least afford to implement major security measures. Many even have entire departments devoted to it.
But for most small businesses, a cyber security department likely consists of you and one of your younger employees sitting in an office after hours trying to set up a VPN.
But that’s not enough anymore. According to a National Small Business Cybersecurity survey, small businesses lost nearly $100 billion last year due to cyber security breaches. In an economy where only about half of small businesses survive for more than five years, this lost revenue could easily be the difference between whether your business flourishes or crashes.
That’s why it’s so important to invest in the proper defenses. Even small businesses on a tight budget could benefit from taking these five steps to invest in their cyber security:
Consumers tend to flock to places with free Wi-Fi, but if your business can’t handle that much extra bandwidth then you need to take the time to protect your company’s wireless Internet connection with more than just a password.
You can use firewalls, intrusion prevention systems, VPNs and network access controllers to block access. This allows you to save your Wi-Fi connection either for just internal use or for yours customers, instead of every random passerby.
Make sure you’re maintaining your network by regularly updating all security and anti-spyware/malware programs and deleting unused accounts. You should also generally pay for a level above what you think you will need. Hackers may have plenty of tricks up their sleeves, but that doesn’t mean you should make it easy for them. Even having the latest anti-virus software may be enough to dissuade a hacker from waging an attack and instead focus on easier prey.
With smartphones now such an integral part of people’s daily lives, it’s important not to overlook mobile security. Even if you did drop big money on a secure website, your web developer may not have taken the time to implement the same security protocol for your mobile app. And since many apps run on cellular data networks that are considerably less protected than your in-house Wi-Fi, ensuring all your mobile features are properly encrypted is crucial.
Phones are also the double-edged swords that expose both your business and your customer simultaneously. And don’t think your customers will necessarily be the ones taking precautions. A 2013 Norton study found that 30% of mobile users had been the victims of some kind of cyber-crime, but only half of them had bothered taking any preventative measures.
Almost all small businesses insure against employee fraud and lawsuits. However, both of those are far less common that cyber-crime, so getting cyber security insurance is a must. If you have a policy, and just got it as an afterthought, take another look and see if it covers everything you need. If you don’t have one, talk to your insurance rep and see what they can offer.
All the security features in the world will mean absolutely nothing if your employees can’t use them. Even though you may have very few man-hours to spare, try to get your workforce up to speed on everything you’re doing in terms of security. You may even want to look into bringing in an outside cyber security consultant to explain the latest and greatest in hacking techniques so your company can be on the lookout.
And yes, the unfortunate fact is that each of these steps costs money. However, in the case of cyber security, the benefits of investing in the right protection far outweigh the risks.