How Small Businesses Can Boost their Cybersecurity

Running a business is not for the faint of heart. It is an inherently risky venture fraught with a myriad of different challenges. Businesses must simultaneously attract, hire, and retain new talent, continuously grow and keep up with the demands of that growth, handle cash flow issues, follow complicated tax regulations, meet employee healthcare requirements, face the ups and downs of changing economic conditions, and stay a step or several ahead of the competition.

And that’s not all…

As much as we hate to be the bearer of bad news, if you’re a business owner, there’s another serious challenge on your plate too. They’re called cyber risks and they’re after your business’ data and computers. Small businesses are especially at risk: according to cnbc.com, 43% of cyberattacks are aimed at small businesses and a whopping 60% of small businesses fold after experiencing an attack. And if you thought your business is safe from hackers because of the industry it’s in, we’re sorry, but there’s more bad news. It doesn’t matter what industry your business is in, hackers will attack it if your computers and data are vulnerable. For example, according to the Verizon Data Breach Investigation Report, the health industry experiences more data breaches than any other sector. Then there’s the FBI report that multi-billions in business losses are attributable to business email compromise (BEC) attacks that focus on tricking employees of real-estate businesses into wiring money to the attacker’s account. And let’s not get started on the attacks against legal firms, insurance industries, construction companies and others.

On the other hand, we love being the bearer of good news
It seems like there’s nowhere for a business to run. But then again, they don’t need to run. The good news is that businesses can protect themselves. They can boost their cybersecurity and they can do it effectively and cost-efficiently.

Start with antivirus software
The first thing to do is install a virus protection for small business solution that provides powerful, 24/7 endpoint security. Look for a solution that has a quick installation process, is easy to manage, and offers the following privacy protection features:

ransomware protection to keep your files from being encrypted and held for ransom
protection against potentially unwanted programs (PUPs) to keep undesirable and harmful programs of your computers
anti-tracking protection to prevent online business activity from being followed, collected, and shared by cookies, scripts and trackers
secure browsing to prevent you and your employees from surfing to malicious URLs,
webcam and microphone protection to stop bad actors from spying on and listening to private businesses conversations and meetings.

Next, design a cybersecurity plan
You should also create a cybersecurity plan for your business. For example, since cyber-attacks often target credit card information, consider verifying your business’ bank transactions with a verbal confirmation. Educating your employees should also be part of this plan. The more knowledgeable your employees are about cyber-attacks, the better prepared your businesses will be to defend itself. Even just reminding them not to open attachments from senders they don’t know or providing guidelines for handling sensitive information is helpful.
Get those passwords right too
Many cyber-attacks are successful because passwords are easy to crack. To prevent this type of vulnerability, implement strict password protocols and ensure that your employees adhere to them. Passwords should be changed every 3-6 months and should include a combination of numbers, upper and lowercase letters and symbols. They should also be at least 8 characters long.

And don’t forget about the software
Another vital security measure is keeping your software up to date. When your software is kept up to date, you ensure that the software vulnerabilities hackers love to exploit are patched. Remember, keeping your software up to date includes keeping your antivirus up to date to ensure that it is using the latest virus signature database. More advanced antivirus solutions do this automatically.

Risk assessments
Finally, businesses should regularly conduct risk assessments. This means identifying your business’ cybersecurity risks, analyzing and evaluating them and then making sure you’ve implemented sufficient cybersecurity controls to mitigate those risks.

It’s time to own your privacy

It’s time for small business to own their privacy. They must make cybersecurity a priority. Neither size nor industry is a deterrent to hackers. Owners of plumbing businesses and pet stores need cybersecurity just as much as banks and insurance providers. Not implementing cybersecurity for your business puts your employees and customers at risk as well as your business’ finances, business plans and even its future.