As a small business, what is your most critical asset? Your people, of course, but also your information. According to The Economist, data is the most valuable resource in the world – ahead of even oil. It is integral in shaping strategy and leveraging opportunities on a big picture level, as well as serving your clients to the best of your ability on a daily basis. Think about all of the data you “own,” from names and phone numbers to credit card information and passwords. This information is just as valuable for cybercriminals as it is to you – albeit for far more nefarious reasons.
If you are not thinking about cybersecurity, you are putting your most important asset – your name and reputation – at significant risk.
Why Small Businesses Need Strong Cybersecurity
It can’t happen to us.
We are a small company.
I only have X number of employees; I’m not Apple, Twitter, or Facebook.
The cost of data breaches will hit a staggering $5 trillion by 2024. When we think of cybercrime, we tend to think of headline-grabbing attacks like the one against computer manufacturer Acer in 2021 in which hackers demanded a $50 million ransom. But the reality is that 43% of data breaches involve small- and medium-sized businesses, and 61% of SMEs have reported at least one attack in 2020.
Not surprisingly, the vast majority of small businesses are not equipped to handle the crushing financial impact of an attack, which averages over $200,000, which does not include the loss of trust. This can be, and often is, a deathblow for these companies.
It can happen to you. Over 480 new high-tech threats are introduced every minute. It’s not as much of an if at this point, but a when – and how bad.
Why Cybercriminals Target Small Businesses
You have something they want (information) – and you’re an easy mark. Not you, but in general small businesses are an attractive target for cybercriminals because:
- IT infrastructure tends to go without regular updates, is configured improperly, or is out-of-date (which happens faster than you’d believe!).
- In the day-to-day of running of a business, it is difficult for small businesses to stay up-to-date with the latest security threats and robust solutions.
- They are far less likely to have in-house IT experts.
- Cobbling various devices, apps, networks, and hardware together can make it near impossible to create an effective barrier to attacks.
- Employees are unlikely to receive cybersecurity training.
- They don’t have a plan for disaster recovery or continuity. Forty-three percent have no cybersecurity plan whatsoever.
- Small businesses think they are “too small” to be targets, leaving them wide open to attack.
It is perhaps this last point that makes small businesses so vulnerable to cybercrime.
What Can You Do to Keep Your Business – and Customers – Safe?
Given the increasing sophistication, frequency, and speed of cyberattacks, how can small businesses protect themselves? Go back to paper records, logs, and rolodexes, keeping everything under lock and key? Admittedly, filing cabinets and padlocks are less expensive than cybersecurity measures, but eschewing technology is just not feasible. You need connectivity, digital solutions, cloud resources, and other essential tools of today’s trade.
At the same time, cybersecurity is not cheap. There’s no sugar coating that fact. It is an investment, but if you are wondering whether it’s worth it, ask yourself this: will it cost less than $200,000?
Take the first step. Connect with a cybersecurity specialist, such as Reciprocal Technologies. This Noblesville, Indiana firm offers comprehensive solutions that can be tailored to your company’s needs. These include:
- Network Security and Unified Threat Management (UTM)
- Web Filtering and Firewall
- Email Protection
- Spam Protection
- Mobile Device Management
- Enterprise Mobility Management
- Security Networking
- Asset Tracking
If you’re like most of us, you know more about pouring a foundation, framing a house, wiring a smart system, financing a dream, fabricating natural stone countertops, heating and cooling a family, or creating lush landscapes than you do about cybersecurity. Reach out for help from the experts. As a matter of urgency.
At the same time, there are some low-tech steps you can take – now – to protect your business. And make no mistake, they are effective. Human error is one of the biggest threats to your business. To combat it:
- Deliver cyber security training to your employees. Educate your team on the latest cyber threats and trends and make sure they take basic precautions. For example, they should never click on unsolicited email links or open attachments and should be aware of phishing red flags (e.g. impersonal emails that try to panic you or create a sense of urgency, poor grammar and spelling, links that do not match the domain, etc.).
- Teach your team (and yourself!) how to detect scammers and fraudulent requests.
- Stress the importance of strong passwords – and remind people not to use the same password for everything.
- Utilize multi factor authentication (in addition to a password, for example, you may get a text with a code to log in).
- Make sure your malware and antivirus solutions are regularly updated.
- Limit and control physical access. We’re all on the go, and we rely on phones and laptops to work from wherever we are. What happens if we lose a device? If it’s stolen? Protect devices with strong passwords, and make sure each user has a separate account. Restrict access to sensitive information to key staff only.
Stay vigilant. It is a low-tech way to protect yourself from high-tech threats.
Protect Your Small Business
Plan for the worst. Hopefully, it will not happen, but you cannot put the future of your business in the hands of hope. At Home Artisans of Indiana, our goal is to facilitate professional and personal development. By sharing information on critical topics like cybersecurity for small businesses, we build better businesses… together.
Learn more about our community of artisans and how it can help you thrive at https://homeartisans.com.