It is hard to keep track of the number of small business owners we speak with who think they don’t need to worry when it comes to data breach. We hear, “there are bigger companies out there that are at much higher risk. We don’t have to worry!” Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth. Hackers target small businesses exactly because of this prevailing attitude, and 60% of small enterprises that sustain a cyber attack are forced to close their doors within 6 months.
As hackers continue to advance their means to access valuable data, threats will inevitably continue to increase in 2018. These will be compounded by organizations using outdated technology and thinking that what they have used in the past will continue to be enough.
Here are four key steps to amp up your security and get ahead of a cyber attack:
Invest in your Employees
As vital as it is to have the right security software in place, your tools are only as strong as your people. It is therefore even more important for the people being protected by that software to be educated on IT security.
Training and retraining your employees is a guaranteed way to keep them abreast of best security practices in the IT industry and is one of your best defenses. To keep your data protected this year, train your employees to protect sensitive information by educating them to recognize and avoid cyber threats like phishing and scams. It is not enough to simply install a network firewall – emails can get through even the best of filtering tools, and it is critical for humans to stay up-to-date and know what to look for in order to catch threats before they strike.
Implement an Enforceable Security Policy
Do your employees know what they are expected to do (and not do) to protect your data? Do you have enforceable, written rules on how your organization’s equipment and data can be used? Do you have a plan in place for properly reporting security threats? Who receives these reports and in what format? Do you have employee buy-in for that plan?
A comprehensive security policy will answer questions like these. It is important to integrate a system to make sure your employees read and acknowledge the plan – this can include integration into new-hire training and the annual review process so that all team members are up-to-date and on the same page in terms of their responsibilities. It is also worth taking a moment to update your employee handbook or other written policies to include security rules, social media directives, and more.
Continue Assessing Your Network to Identify Vulnerabilities & Solutions
Because new threats keep popping up, IT security is an iterative process. With this in mind, it is critical to have a routine in place to regularly assess your IT network for weaknesses and vulnerabilities that could allow unauthorized access to sensitive data. Immediately patching holes and upgrading outdated software or hardware will go a long way to prevent attacks. Never give hackers an opportunity to take advantage of negligence and penetrate your business’ privacy.
If you’ve never had your IT network assessed for weaknesses and vulnerabilities, do it right away. You will probably discover holes in your security that you never expected, but that’s OK! The goal is to find them before hackers do or before the next ransomware strain takes advantage of them. A network assessment can be quick, easy, and affordable, and you’ll get a report with actions you can take right away. If you have questions about how to go about doing this, contact us for a consultation.
Back Up Your Data
Yes, this seems incredibly basic and you might have heard it a thousand times, but we’re going to say it one more: have a back up plan in place!! Backing up your data and implementing a disaster recovery plan is the foundation of data security. With the changing dynamics of technology and the increasing desperation of hackers, you may not be able to predict when and how your business will be attacked. This makes it imperative that you have your data backed up; it is the only way you can guarantee access to lost data if you’re hit by a cyberattack.
Although cybersecurity is now topping many business agendas, no one really knows what 2018 has in stock for us. With this in mind, it is more important than ever to stay on top of your game when it comes to protecting your business from security breach and data compromise.
Many small businesses and startups make the mistake of thinking that their businesses are too niche to be targets. In reality, half of all cyberattacks target smaller companies because they’re more likely to have limited budgets devoted to cybersecurity. Don’t let this be your excuse. You can rely on an in-house team to take responsibility for this or partner with a Managed IT Services Provider to take care of everything for you. Either way, take action and take it now, before it’s too late!