Around the world, the volume and frequency of cyber-attacks safe are increasing exponentially. And while the media tends to focus on breaches at large multinational corporations – the reality is a vast majority of malicious activity is targeted at the SMB market. As security processes and systems are inherently weaker in smaller organizations, many are prime targets for hackers.
And these consequences can be severe. Research suggests 60 percent of all small and medium companies will go out of business within 6 months after a serious data breach. IT is at the heart of operations for a vast majority of small businesses, so it is vital they have robust security measures in place. For those just starting the cybersecurity journey, here are some top tips.
Determine current cybersecurity status
You can’t confront a problem until you admit there is one. Most small and medium enterprises go through life blissfully unaware of where their data lives, who has access to it, and how secure everything it all is.
The first thing required is conducting an informal audit to determine your cybersecurity status. What processes are already in place? Are there particular areas of weakness? Gather senior leaders as well as other members of staff and begin taking stock of these core data sets.
Conduct inventory of assets
As a business, you know what is valuable to you. Whether it’s customer data, intellectual property or something else. Start a complete inventory of each and every digital asset and infrastructure. Only then can you determine their value and prioritize each accordingly.
Adopt a framework
Once there’s an understanding of the data you have, the assets you own, and the potential vulnerabilities – it’s time to build out the processes that becomes the foundation of a cybersecurity policy.
This can be the most intimidating step for small businesses. Fortunately, the NIST Cybersecurity Framework helps businesses of all sizes better understand, manage, and reduce cybersecurity risk to protect networks and data. The Framework is a great place to start because it gives companies an outline of best-practices to help decide where to focus the most time and money for cybersecurity protection.
Utilize all tools as your disposal
The consumerization of IT and proliferation of cloud services (SaaS) means it’s now possible to access security tools that were once prohibitively expensive. SMBs should take advantage of this opportunity and use the full range of offerings now at their disposal.
For example, Mobile Device Management tools allow companies to properly manage devices and the data they access – even if employees use their own devices. Biometrics combined with Multi-Factor Authentication would have been unthinkable a few short years ago – but now is available across a wide range of laptops, phones and tablets. Using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) can also extend corporate networks, ensuring users working remotely or on public hotspots have access to digital assets – but only via a secure encrypted tunnel. Each and every one of these tools are now readily available to organizations of any size.
Educate, educate, educate
Human error is almost always the weakest link when it comes to cybersecurity. That’s why it’s important to always back cybersecurity tools with a robust training strategy. For a workplace to remain secure, it’s vital all staff are well educated on every possible threat.
The more engaged employees are, the more effective training will be – so think about ways to grab their attention. For example, try exposing staff to increasingly complex and hard-to-notice simulated attacks to keep them alert and engaged. This kind of education results in a workforce that is adept at spotting attacks – including suspicious emails that contain urgent subject lines, fake billing-related attachments, and other social engineering designed to trick staff members.