When a household-name business gets hacked, it’s big news. You might get the impression that cybersecurity is a major concern for large corporations only. But as a small business owner, you also need to protect your business from cyberattacks. According to SCORE, 43% of these crimes target small establishments like yours.
The potential impact of these data breaches is no small matter. A retail shop could have its customers’ credit card information stolen. A construction business could lose planning details on a multimillion-dollar project. An attack on a trucking company could result in the theft of its freight.
You can help to prevent cyberattacks by learning about small business cybersecurity and taking steps to protect your company’s data. This guide will help you start the process.
Cybersecurity for Small Business Owners
Cybersecurity is all about guarding information. It includes protecting data not only from hacking or business identity theft, but also from incidents like hard drive failures, power outages, natural disasters and employee errors. To protect your business from cyberattacks, you need to consider all potential threats.
A cybersecurity breach and data loss can shut down a small business. In a Better Business Bureau (BBB) survey, half of small business owners said they could only stay profitable for one month if they lost essential data. The BBB also found that 36% of small business owners who experienced a cyberattack lost money as a result. The average annual loss was nearly $80,000, with a median loss of $2,000.
3 Ways to Guard Your Data
A cybersecurity plan should start with a few fundamental security practices, then could expand to more advanced techniques, depending on the nature and needs of your business. Here are three key steps to better small business cybersecurity.
1. Create a policy
Set some rules around the kind of information employees can keep on their computers, who can access certain types of company data, and how often passwords should be changed. The Federal Communications Commission recommends that each employee should have a separate user account for the company’s computers.
2. Use security software
Install a firewall to secure your internet connection, and invest in software to keep out viruses and malware (software designed to cause damage). These programs must be regularly updated to stay effective. And don’t forget to have security software installed on any mobile devices that you and your employees use for work.
3. Train your staff
Train your employees on some of the common methods cybercriminals use to steal business information. For instance, phishing scams use fake emails to lure recipients into clicking on a link or opening an attachment that contains malware, giving thieves access to your internal data. Two related cybercrime tools are smishing (SMS phising), which uses text messaging, and vishing (voice phishing), which targets victims through phone calls and voicemail. Make sure staffers exercise caution in their communication with outsiders and that they use strong passwords for their online accounts.
Hiring Specialists for Extra Security
You can go beyond these basic cybersecurity measures by hiring a consultant to assess your business’s vulnerability to cyber threats and help you plan solutions. You could also think about adding a part-time IT specialist to your staff.
If you’re ready to improve your small business cybersecurity but don’t have the funds needed for hiring, training or investing in new technology, a small business loan might be worth considering. When it comes to protecting your business from cyberattacks, hoping for the best is simply not an option.