It’s a journey, not a destination.
Each October, companies and security experts commemorate Cybersecurity Awareness Month. While the event aims to help businesses learn essential cyber security facts, protecting your business is a year-round endeavor.
Why is cybersecurity so crucial for businesses? Even a single breach can have devastating impacts on a small business. And cyberattacks are all too common. Consider this compelling fact: According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Report, cybercrimes cost individuals and companies 3.5 billion in a single year. The FBI also received an average of 1,300 new cybercrimes report each day.
What’s even more concerning is that nearly 90 percent of small businesses say they are vulnerable to a cyberattack per the US Small Business Administration. Despite these distributing trends, you can take steps to safeguard your company. Knowing the importance of cyber security, understanding common threats, and engaging a security partner are smart moves for every business.
Why is cyber security so important in 2021 and beyond?
You’ve probably heard about some of the most prominent and notorious data breaches–and you may have even been affected by one. Since hacks into house-hold name companies make headlines, some people may assume small businesses aren’t at risk.
That couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, one study of organizations with between 100 and 1,000 people found that 63 percent of those small to medium businesses (SMBs) had experienced a data breach in 12 months. Not only do attacks happen often, but they’re also extremely costly at an average of $7.91 million per breach.
A data breach can harm your business in many ways:
- Financial losses: A data security breach often causes a company to lose revenues. This loss can stem from an inability to access websites and critical systems to run the business.
- Brand and reputation damage: When a company experiences a breach, current and potential clients may lose trust in the brand’s security practices. As a result, companies can experience the defection of customers to competitors, which can cause longer-term revenue losses.
- Loss of sensitive data intellectual property: Hackers may break into company systems to access proprietary information, such as designs, blueprints, customer lists, and pricing models. These breaches can cause companies to lose their differentiators and competitive edge in the marketplace.
Unfortunately, the risks after a data breach persist even after you’ve resolved the initial incident. Some companies find themself facing costly lawsuits after a data breach. The reason? Your business partners may experience harm over the loss of any of their proprietary data or intellectual property. And consumers may be vulnerable to identity theft.
What do businesses need to know about cyber security?
To be effective, you need a comprehensive security approach for your business. Vulnerabilities exist everywhere–from individual employees with weak passwords to a cloud services infrastructure.
While companies’ cyber security strategies may vary based on business needs, you should consider these elements to safeguard your company:
- Document your policies: You should put your cyber security policies in writing and make them accessible to everyone on your team. Since cybercrime is a moving target, review and update your policies regularly.
- Educate your employees: Make sure every employee is up-to-date on your security protocols. A single slip by one employee can make you prey to a cyberattack or breach.
- Use a firewall: The first line of defense against cyberthreats, a firewall puts a barrier between cybercriminals and your critical data. Advise any employees working from home to install firewalls on their personal networks as well.
- Consider mobile devices: Although mobile devices make it convenient to work from anywhere, they can introduce risk to your network. If you allow employees to use their own devices, ensure that they sign up for automated security updates, and follow your company’s password policies.
- Back up data: By backing up data regularly, you can restore operations if a data breach happens. A good practice is storing backed-up data in a separate location from your primary worksites for an added level of protection.
- Follow safe password practices: Stolen, lost, or weak passwords are a common cause of data breaches. Ensure that employees create strong passwords with a mix of upper case and lower case letters, symbols, and letters and update passwords every 60 to 90 days.
- Use anti-malware software: Unfortunately, it’s easy for an employee to fall victim to a phishing email from a bad actor. Since most phishing emails install malware on the target’s device, anti-malware software is a must for every SMB.
- Apply multi-factor authentication: Multi-factor authentication (MFA) requires users to take additional steps before employee access to systems or data. Implementing MFA is often straightforward and provides essential protection.
- Safeguard your cloud: Although many cloud services providers offer built-in protection, you can consider additional security layers from third-party providers. Through a third-party, you can gain enhanced protection for your data and applications, threat intelligence and remediation, zero-trust network security controls, and more.
Why should you consider a cyber security partner?
Many SMBs don’t have the in-house expertise necessary to set up and manage a robust cyber security strategy. Instead of neglecting cyber security and hoping for the best, you should consider engaging a technology partner with the know-how to safeguard your business from cybercriminals.
Working with a security solutions provider gives you access to a dedicated team of security professionals. These experts can 24/7 computer and network monitoring and firewall administration. Also, security professionals can detect potential intrusions and phishing attacks and help you remedy them to avoid harm.
Given that the average cost of a cyber breach is nearly $8 million for US companies investing in cyber security is wise. Even a single breach can cost your business far more than years of service from experienced security professionals.
Safeguard your business against cyber threats
Technology allows businesses to innovate and grow faster than ever before, but there is a dark side to our dependence on technology. Unfortunately, for every advancement, eager cybercriminals are looking for new ways to exploit technological vulnerabilities.
The bad news is that SMBs are a top target for bad actors. While larger enterprises have the resources to support multi-layered security programs, smaller businesses may not see the importance of cyber security. This lack of understanding can lead to less attention and funding directed to cyber security by SMBs–and that can give cybercriminals openings for attack.
Your business doesn’t need to fall prey to cyber attacks and data breaches. Educating yourself on risks and security steps to take is a must. You may also find value in retaining a cyber security partner to help you establish and manage a well-rounded security program. The sooner you get started with cyber security, the safer your business will be, and the more opportunity you have for growth and success in the years to come.