Why Small Business Cybersecurity is Important
Why Small Business Cybersecurity is Important
More companies than ever are finding themselves targeted by malicious cyber attacks. While Equifax might be the most notorious of the bunch, they weren’t the first and won’t be the last. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that small businesses will slip under the radar. A small business might not have the volume of customers as its larger competitors, but their data is no less valuable, and the fact that most lack any significant cybersecurity protections makes them appealing targets.
How Cyber Attacks Harm You and Your Customers
Don’t underestimate the damage hackers can inflict on your business. It can negatively impact you, your business, and even your customers for years after the initial attack. Cybercriminals most commonly target stored and confidential customer information. They primarily go after credit card and social security numbers to use for further fraud. This can devastate your credit. Another common tactic uses what is known as “ransomware” to deny users access to their own information systems. As the name suggests, they then demand a costly ransom if you want to have your access restored.
Depending on the severity of the attack, your business might need to suspend operations while you run around playing damage control. And that isn’t even the worst-case scenario. If your customers can’t trust you to keep their information safe, then they’re liable to switch over a competitor who can. This means potentially massive losses. An especially bad breach could even cause you to lose your hard-won reputation and any brand loyalty that you have earned.
Keep Your Cybersecurity Software Up to Date
Your anti-virus and anti-spyware software will be the first line of defense against these electronic evildoers. But they won’t be enough on their own. You’ll also want to make sure that you have firewalls in place and that your data is encrypted, both in storage and when it’s being sent from one place to another. Keep all of these systems updated. Cybersecurity threats are constantly changing and evolving, and you must keep your safeguards up to date. If you’re less than savvy with technology, consider hiring an IT specialist or outsourcing your needs to a company that specializes in data security.
Cybersecurity isn’t something that only owners and IT departments need to think about. Your employees need to be educated to prevent them from becoming security risks themselves. Their emails and data can be used as stepping stones to gain access to your business’s data. Teach your employees about the dangers of email phishing scams and how to recognize them, as well as other common security threats. Set up a password policy that applies to everyone and requires strong passwords (usually including capitalization and numbers) and update them regularly. You’ll want a similar policy for personal devices in the workplace clearly stating what data employees are allowed to access. You should also have a plan of action for handling stolen, lost, or otherwise compromised devices.
Data Storage to Cloud
When hackers attack your business, they’re usually targeting the data stored on your servers. Installing security protections and performing regular backups can help, but they are no substitution for the infamous Cloud. There are many Cloud storage providers out there, so take the time to research which service will best meet your security needs. While not totally impenetrable, Cloud services are experts in securing data and watching out for potential threats.
Have a Response Plan in Place
Business is all about preparation. It is better to be safe than sorry when it comes to small business cybersecurity. The resulting losses in capital, reputation, and customer loyalty just aren’t worth the risk. Arrange a contingency plan for how your business should respond in case of ransomware, data breaches, or other security threats. It should contain processes for reporting, containing, and repairing any damage done.
Unfortunately, your general liability policy hasn’t quite entered the Information Age just yet. It will not cover your losses in the event of a cyber attack. However, specific cybersecurity insurance policies are an option. Ideally, you’ll want a plan that covers both first and third-party losses. First-party coverage refers to a policy that only covers your losses. Third-party coverage, by contrast, can help cover you in case you find yourself facing litigation because of a data breach.
Looking to start a business or grow your current business? Contact FL Patel Law today by visiting our website or calling (727) 279-5037.