If you run a small business, having a cyber security protocol could be the key to satisfied customers and success. From Equifax to Yahoo and Home Depot to JPMorgan Chase, data breaches and identity theft seem to be the ongoing news story. In theory these national companies have some of the tightest and most advanced cyber security in the world. Even though these big stories make national headlines, the risk for a small business cyber breach is even greater.
A study done in 2016 found that 50% of 600 small and medium sized businesses in the survey had a security breach that year. The Denver Post quoted an IBM study that small businesses are the target of 62% of all cyber-attacks.
So, if you are counting, that’s over 14 million small businesses. In contrast, a CNBC article points out that 87% “of small-business owners don’t feel that they’re at risk of a cyber-security attack, and 1 in 3 small businesses don’t have the tools in place – firewalls, antivirus software, spam filters, or data-encryption tools – to protect themselves.”
What are we trying to tell you with all these numbers? In short, a small business cyber security plan is often overlooked and in turn your business will be an unprotected target of cyber criminals.
Small Business Cyber Security Solutions
The numbers above are scary, but most cyber security is simple and easy for even the non-tech people among us. We will share some of the easiest and often overlooked ways to keep your business safe.
- Keep up with software updates:Whether it is your browser, your operating system or your security software, keep up with the updates. Some of these may seem irrelevant, but they add up, especially when the updates are a direct response to a known security threat.
- Back up your data: Small Business Trends states that hackers will hijack your data and demand a ransom to give it back. If you have a secure backup, you already have a copy of the data, so you at least you have what you need to keep your business up and running. Downside to this is that yes the stolen data is out of your control, but if you did not have backups at all, the situation may be even worse.
- Use two-factor authentication: A good hacking program can get through your password easily – especially if it is “password” or “123123” or some of the other overused and weak passwords. Two-factor authentication gives you a double layer of protection against these hacking attacks. A strong password is your first step in a two-factor authentication. The second layer of protection is the authentication code that gets sent to your phone, for instance. This won’t automatically protect you from a cyber attack but it does help make it more difficult to access your sensitive information.
- Use a firewall: According to Microsoft, a firewall is a software program or hardware designed to “screen out hackers, viruses, and worms that try to reach your computer over the Internet.” There is no good reason to skip a firewall. It’s one of the easiest steps you can take in a small business cyber security protection.
- Protect your Wi-Fi: The Wi-Fi connection you use in your business, is an open door for a smart hacker. The Small Business Administration recommends hiding your Wi-Fi network and setting up a separate system for your customers to use.
- Hire a hacker: One of the best ways to find a weakness in your cyber security is to hire someone trustworthy to hack your system. Doing this will find out what data they can access and you can then make the changes to shore up the weak points.
- Put a cyber security policy in place: Having strong passwords and backups won’t help any if you have someone in your business, who is lazy about the importance of security protocols. You should create a policy specific to your needs and ensure all employees follows the rules. Remind them that a risk to the business is also a risk to them if you have any electronic employment records.
- Train your team: While a cyber security policy is important, training your team is the best way to equip employees to handle sensitive information, potential hackers, phishing scams, and other cyber crime activity.
- Plan to get hacked: You might have the security protocols in place, your business could still get hacked, thus putting a lot of information at risk. Rather than panicking and trying to figure out what to do, have a plan in place ahead of time. The ideal, of course, is to lock out cyber criminals, but like any business emergency, preparation for the worst is your key to doing your best.
Taking Advantage of Resources
The National Cyber Security Alliance has plenty of tips and worksheets for helping you with your small business cyber security. Likewise, the Small Business Administration has a list of cyber security resources, including some advisors and security assessment tools.
It is also important to have insurance to cover data breaches and cyber-attacks. Frimark/Keller & Associates Cyber Liability Insurance is more affordable than you might think. Give us a call today at 847-907-4520 to learn more about protecting your small business.