It’s common for small business owners to assume that cybercriminals have no reason to target them. After all, sophisticated cybercrime syndicates are after the unlimited financial reserves of reputed corporations, right? Wrong.
Large corporations have a highly sophisticated cybersecurity infrastructure. Simply put, penetrating the data systems and extracting financial information from large corporations is not an easy undertaking. Therefore, cybercriminals are more likely to prey on startups and small businesses.
You see, small and medium-scale enterprises (SMEs) are much more vulnerable as their defenses are weaker and crumble quickly. Small businesses also have more digital assets. They lack the funding for acquiring a state-of-the-art IT infrastructure. Luckily, SMEs can safeguard themselves with a dynamic and multi-faceted cybersecurity strategy to protect their data robustly.
However, this undertaking requires extensive planning and specialized expertise. In today’s world, businesses thrive on data science, which makes them more vulnerable to cybercrime. Enterprises are shifting to the online landscape, leaving traditional practices behind. The widespread adoption of cloud computing and the Internet of Things demands robust security protocols and investment.
Keep reading to explore vital security protocols that safeguard small businesses from cybercriminals.
Talent Acquisition & Training
Human resource is a business’s premier line of defense against all natures of threats and challenges. Acquiring talented professionals who specialize in cybersecurity and IT development is the first step to ward off criminals and hackers.
In recent years, the demand for cybersecurity experts and IT specialists has grown exponentially. Companies across all industries and sectors need specialized training to secure themselves from data theft and phishing attacks. If you’re currently working as an IT professional, consider pursuing a masters in information security online.
An advanced degree in information security can increase your marketability, creating scores of opportunities for career advancement. You can explore promotions and progress in your current organization or look for lucrative opportunities across the industry.
Training is just as essential as talent acquisition. All employees must understand the significance of password protection and adopting safety measures. Training and workshops must teach employees the fundamentals of protecting passwords and sensitive information and two-factor authentication. Staff members also require training to identify the risk factors and signs of data theft, phishing, and criminal activities.
Executive leaders and managers should also schedule regular meetings to discuss security upgrades and existing threats with employees.
A Comprehensive Cybersecurity Policy
Businesses of all shapes and sizes need a comprehensive cybersecurity policy that identifies threats and formulates a multi-faceted response. The policy will lay down the foundation of the company’s mitigation, prevention, and response strategy to eliminate cybersecurity threats. The document will establish security protocols and regulations regarding network usage, company devices, and data sharing.
The policy will also lay down regulations from internal and external communications and onboarding experiences. Simply put, it will create a roadmap to ensure all employees follow the security protocols while using digital devices and solutions.
Research from the University of Portsmouth reveals an absence of cybersecurity protocols across a majority of small businesses. Projections indicate that most small businesses don’t have a cybersecurity policy that identifies risks and proposes solutions. Moreover, very few entrepreneurs seek advice or information resources on the cybersecurity threats they face. Establishing a comprehensive and detailed policy is instrumental in putting up robust defenses. Your policy must cover the following areas:
- Safe usage of networks, internet, and email tools
- Password generation and protection
- Safe use of company mobile and digital devices
- Data creation, processing, storage, and handling
- Security protocols for remotely accessing databases
- Safety of all removable media, such as USB drives, hard-disks, etc.
- Handling sensitive data and financial information
Eliminating Internal Threats
Businesses commonly make the mistake of ignoring internal threats and focusing resources towards combatting external cybersecurity threats. Internal actors, core stakeholders, and employees can also jeopardize the cybersecurity protocols of an organization. Therefore, businesses must take into account internal and external threats while devising a cybersecurity strategy. How can a small business combat this challenge?
It’s simple: restrict access to hardware, software, sensitive data, and financial information. The principle of least privilege is the most efficient solution to eliminate internal threats. It refers to reducing the access and permissions granted to each employee and giving access to trusted and long-standing employees.
Businesses can also restrict access and permissions after the work is submitted to minimize access and security risks. These strategies prevent employees from accessing sensitive information without managerial supervision. Depending on the business’s nature, executives might need to restrict physical access in specific departments and areas.
Firms are increasingly adopting controls, such as fingerprint and biometric scanners, RFID doors, password-protected control panels, and other security checks. These protocols prevent unauthorized individuals from entering the premises and accessing sensitive information/assets.
Effective Recovery Systems
Modern-day businesses function on extensive IT infrastructure, and when the system goes down, their operations come to a halt. IT downtime and system failure can cost small businesses hundreds of dollars by the minute. SMEs have much to gain by investing in a robust and effective recovery system that prevents data loss, allowing seamless operation.
It’s wise to adopt a combination of online cloud backup and on-site backups, for instance, network-attached data storage. This combination will offer efficient data safety, no matter how enormous the catastrophe.
It’s vital to invest in reliable and trusted anti-malware software. Antivirus software is the first line of defense against cybercriminals and phishing attacks. They protect computers and digital devices from numerous digital threats, including worms, trojans, and viruses.
Suppose a malicious file enters your system after an employee falls for a clickbait website promoting adorable kittens. In that case, your antivirus software will detect, prevent and eliminate the threat before it penetrates and alters your system. Choosing anti-malware software isn’t easy, especially if you have little or no expertise in IT solutions.
Companies with sensitive and financial data reserves can invest in cyber insurance to enjoy additional coverage and security. Numerous strategies and investments allow businesses to secure themselves against cybercriminals. However, it all begins with a comprehensive policy that identifies and outlines threats.