The State of Small Business Cybersecurity
There’s a perilous misconception floating around regarding small business and cyber security. Many business owners believe they won’t be the target of a data breach or an IT security threat because they’re too small to garner the attention of cyber criminals. That’s a complete misconception.
In reality, small business is a prime target for these data thieves, because they often have fewer safeguards and protections in place. According to a report from PropertyCasual360.com, one in two companies report being the target of cyber attacks, and sixty percent of the attacks in 2014 hit small and medium-sized business.
So the question becomes, how can small businesses protect themselves from these threats, even if they don’t have a massive cybersecurity budget?
1. Invest In Training for Employees
Employees are often the weakest link when it comes to protecting a small business against cyber attacks, and that’s because they simply don’t know how the threats present themselves and what to do. One example is phishing, which targets employees’ email accounts and can present a very convincing challenge to recognize. Invest in training every employee and you’ll see the return on your investment in terms of a reduced threat level.
2. Be Aware of Data Stores
Many small businesses aren’t even aware of how much data they hold, from employee records and information to customer card data. It’s important to take a regular inventory of your data stores, know where this information is maintained, and who has access to it.
3. Set Restrictions for Mobile Devices
Increasingly businesses are embracing the Bring-Your-Own-Device trend, in which employees use their mobile devices for work purposes as well as personal. This is great in terms of saving money for small businesses, but it can be problematic when it comes to data security. Implement strong policies for how employees use their mobile devices, and consider investing in technology such as secure apps or virtualization technology that will “split” a device to secure work data away from personal information.
4. Secure Your Wireless Network
Most small businesses rely heavily on a wireless Internet network, but it can also be one of their primary points of weakness when it comes to cyber security. Unsecured networks are very easy to target, so businesses should ensure their network is password-protected, and many experts recommend using WPA2 encryption, rather than WEP.
5. Remain Vigilant on Social Media
Social media is also a common way attackers find their way into small business systems, so train employees to be aware of what they’re posting at all times. It’s important to keep a range of information protected on social media, in many cases even including employee emails, which could become part of a phishing attack.
The Future of Cyber Threats
Cyber threats certainly aren’t diminishing in frequency. They’re becoming more prevalent, and something organizations of all types and sizes have to work to safeguard against. The government and large corporations frequently speak about the true scale of the threat posed by cyber attacks, which is why it’s important for small business owners to be proactive to protect their employees, their data and themselves.