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Could Cybercrime Destroy Your Small Business?

 

In 2017, 61 percent of businesses were the victims of cybercrime. For companies with fewer than 99 employees, the average cost of a single incidence was $36,000, but that figure doesn’t take into account the loss of customer and investor confidence, or damage to your reputation and brand that could ultimately lead to your business having to close its doors. Sixty percent of small and medium-sized companies fail within six months of a cyberattack.

Yet, 87 percent of small-business owners don’t think they’re at risk from cybercrime. But consider this: How much of your business’s assets are digital in nature? How much sensitive customer and employee information is stored on your business’s network? For cybercriminals, digital information is as good as gold. Don’t let cybercrime tank your small business; here’s what you can do to protect yourself.

Understand the Risks

Do you know where the weak points are in your cyber-defenses? These days, as the Internet of Things (IoT) grows by the day and cybercriminals become more sophisticated, the security strategies of the past aren’t enough anymore.

For example, is your business’s wireless router safe from hackers? If it’s an older one, it probably isn’t; the same is true if the Admin via Wireless feature is enabled. Are you using connected devices, like security cameras, robot mops and vacuums, or even smart coffee makers? Many IoT devices don’t even have security features, making them easily to hack. Sure, the prospect of a criminal resetting your coffee maker may not be that hair-raising, but what if he or she got access to your security cameras and was able to turn them on and off, or see when you leave for the day? Now that’s scary, and it could easily happen if your wireless network isn’t secure.

Perhaps the most important thing to understand about cybersecurity is that human users are the weakest link in any chain. Today’s hackers know how to manipulate people into giving them the information or access they need; they’re brazen enough to call up and pretend to be a customer or client in order to gain login information. You’ll need to stay on your toes.

Protect Your Endpoints

If you’re like most small businesses, you don’t just have one computer anymore. You may have a laptop or desktop for record-keeping and accounting purposes, a point-of-sale (POS) terminal, and perhaps several company smartphones or tablets that you use to serve customers or keep employees connected. Each of these devices is a doorway onto your network that hackers could use to get their hands on your valuable data. You need to make sure you’re using a comprehensive endpoint management solution to protect each one of them.

Make sure, too, that you keep software and apps up-to-date, including operating systems and web browsers. Manufacturers regularly release updates that, among other things, address vulnerabilities in their software. Keeping your apps, programs, browsers, and operating systems updated will protect you from recognized threats.

Educate Yourself and Your Staff

Since humans are the weakest point of any cybersecurity system, it’s important to educate employees in your system about the latest cybersecurity best practices. Don’t rely on a single cursory training. Schedule regular trainings to keep everyone’s knowledge refreshed. Post security guidelines in the break room. Send out regular security newsletters with reminders and updated information.

Put a Security Protocol in Place

Create a cybersecurity policy and require everyone to follow it. Employees should use strong passwords for every single one of their accounts and devices in the workplace; enable two-factor authentication if possible. Bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies can present a security risk; so can allowing employees to use work devices for personal purposes.

Put together an incident response plan so that you and your employees will know what to do in case there is a data breach. Having a plan in place will allow you to act quickly to shut down a potential attack, and could save you thousands. The plan should include what, if anything, employees can do to stop the breach; who they should contact; where backups and data are stored; and when to call the cops or make a public announcement.

If you don’t think cybercrime poses a threat to your small business, think again. Cybercriminals attack small businesses every day; the threat to your livelihood is only growing. Educate yourself so you can be on guard against cybercrime. Your business could depend on it.

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