Why Your Small Business Needs Cybersecurity and How to Do It

  • June 25, 2018
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Why Your Small Business Needs Cybersecurity and How to Do It

More companies than ever are finding themselves targeted by malicious cyberattacks. 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 Cyberattacks Harm You and Your Customers

The damage that hackers can inflict must not be underestimated. It can negatively impact you, your business, and even your customers for years after the initial attack. The most well-known target of cybercriminals is stored and confidential customer information, such as credit card and social security numbers that can later be used for further fraud that could lower their 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 even be forced to suspend operations while you run around playing damage control. And that isn’t even the worst-case scenario. If your customers don’t feel like you can be trusted 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 your safeguards must be kept 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.

Educate Employees

Cybersecurity isn’t something that only owners and IT departments need to think about. Your employees need to be educated on the matter to prevent them from becoming security risks themselves. This isn’t about disloyal workers, but rather the fact that everything in the 21st Century is connected. Your employee’s 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. It’s also a good idea to set up a password policy that applies to everyone and requires strong passwords (usually including capitalization and numbers) that are regularly reset. You’ll want a similar policy for personal devices in the workplace that clearly states what data employees are allowed to access. It should also set up a plan of action for what to do if these devices are stolen, lost, or otherwise compromised.

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

It’s like the Scouts always say – always be prepared. It is, to use another cliché, better to be safe than sorry when it comes to cybersecurity. The resulting losses in capital, reputation, and your customer’s 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.

Cybersecurity Insurance

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 cyberattack. 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, www.FLPatelLaw.com, or calling 727-279-5037.

Tyler Thompson is a second generation St. Petersburgian with a passion for reading and writing. In 2018 he finally made his way to FL Patel Law PLLC where he has found a home for himself as Project Manager. He is an unapologetic dog person who enjoys spending what free time he has with his friends and family.

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