Cybersecurity is of the utmost importance for a business owner, whether you’re a small Mom & Pop shop or a large multinational corporation. With digitization increasing, businesses find themselves in new scenarios that put them at risk of a cyberattack. (Digitization means there are more devices that need enhanced security.) It is predicted that with advances in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning we are providing more tools for attackers to perform complex attacks.
As a business owner, you want to provide value and great service to your customers. As you grow your company, you serve more customers which gives you more customer data. Customer data that you need to keep safe and secure. Cybersecurity can be expensive: it involves a variety of tools, software, and occasionally consultants in order to implement it properly. But have you ever thought about the cost of not doing it well?
As security is a growing concern, customers are thinking twice before giving out their personal information. Showing your customers that you have security measures in place adds value to your organization.
If you’re a business owner, cybersecurity is your responsibility
The breach of customer data is an event that can have large, well-recognized brands quickly finding themselves in the middle of a media frenzy. Many of us have heard about the British Airways, Target and Equifax scams that resulted in hefty fines and left customers doubting their trust towards the companies.
The publicity around these organizations leaves small and medium sized businesses thinking that this will never happen to them. There is a large misconception that they are simply too small to ever be a target. According to Symantec, over 43% of cyberattacks in 2015 were targeted towards small businesses. Attackers know that smaller companies have valuable customer data, and that they are often unprepared for an attack.
Therefore, business owners must recognize that cybersecurity is their responsibility, not a topic to briefly discuss then pass along to the IT team. Organizations with the most successful cybersecurity have open communication about it so that everyone is involved, learns, and is held responsible.
Take time to understand your organization’s vulnerability
Every organization collects different types of data, uses different IT systems and serves a diverse group of clients. Protecting your organization means taking the time to think about what a cyberattack means to you and your company. It is important to understand what type of business data you collect, which IT systems you rely on the most, and what could be a target for an attacker. There are different types of information attackers are normally looking for. These can include:
- Customer names and addresses
- Social Security numbers
- Email or telephone numbers
- Banking information
- Clinical or Claims forms
- Usernames and passwords
Taking the time to recognize what types of vulnerabilities apply within your organization is the first steps to staying protected.
Have and test an action plan
Now that you understand what might be a high vulnerability for your organization, it is time to implement a cybersecurity plan. At a high level, to keep your data secure you want to ensure you have a firewall in place for your network security. A basic firewall blocks any unauthorized access to your network. It is also a good idea to implement a network management solution so that your network infrastructure can be maintained and monitored. Lastly, you will want to protect your organization’s endpoints which include laptops, desktops and mobile devices.
Here are three key points to include in your company’s cybersecurity plan
- Keep software installed and up to date: As part of a business review meeting, all software and applications that your company uses should have scheduled updates.
- Back up your data: Your day-to-day business operations create digital data, and that data should be backed up. Having your data and endpoints backed up will result in a shorter downtime and a limited loss of revenue. Many companies now use cloud storage as one method of backing up their data. There are a variety of benefits to implementing cloud technology, including cost savings. We also recommend having an offsite backup solution.
- Implement employee training: Any employee with access to your business information should understand the seriousness and impact of a cyberattack. Train your employees on things like phishing emails, attachments and links, and reinforce the importance of strong passwords.
Finally, make sure the plan works
Many organizations forget to ensure that their cybersecurity plan is working. It sounds simple, but organizations fail to successfully measure and report cybersecurity ROI. It has been found that only one third of organizations report back to their businesses on the success of their programs and have regular reports to show key metrics. When you know the ROI of your cybersecurity, it does more than just protect your organization. It allows IT decision makers to secure a better buy-in, and demonstrates the value that security solutions bring to the organization.