If you want your company to succeed and stay competitive, you must protect your corporate data and customers’ information. You can make all the money in the world and have the best products, but if you allow a cybercriminal to wreak havoc with your organization, your customers will go elsewhere. And you will put the business in significant jeopardy.
Small businesses are a primary target of cybercriminals, with 60% of these companies going under within six months of an attack. Therefore, management needs to be aware of threats and educate their teams to avoid becoming victims.
Let’s discuss the danger of an attack and how to prevent a data breach in your small business.
1. Why you need to avoid a data breach
As a company owner, you must do everything in your power to avoid the chance of cybercrime because hackers will target your business, and there are several reasons. For one, they know that your organization may not have the money or resources necessary to put the proper protections in place to avoid a data breach.
Hackers also take advantage of the fact that many business owners fail to put any protections in place because they believe they are too small of a fish to be noticed and that cybercriminals only target large corporations with millions of customers.
The fact is that even if you don’t have millions of dollars in your cybersecurity fund, you still need to take every step possible to avoid a data breach. Just about any piece of data can be used for malicious purposes. For example, social security and credit card numbers can be used to take out fraudulent loans, and email addresses and birthdates can be used and sold on the black market.
You’ll want to protect your small business’s proprietary information. Hackers target small companies for trade secrets, customer databases, and the hidden details that make your company successful. While you may not want to think about it, many competitors out there would love to steal your secrets, and they will pay top dollar if a hacker says they can provide the goods.
Data breaches are also expensive. Recent numbers show that a data breach’s average cost is over 10 million dollars. So the impact could be detrimental if your company cannot afford that loss. Even if you don’t need to pay millions of dollars, you will still inevitably take a hit on your reputation. Customers know that their data is at risk, and if they don’t believe that your company takes their security seriously, then most will not have a problem taking their business elsewhere.
Plus, when it is reported that your company allowed a breach, it can be tough to be seen in a positive light again.
2. Advise your team about current scams
Now that you know the risks, you need to act. The first precaution you should take is to inform your employees about common cybersecurity scams, the warning signs, and how to protect against them. Start with one of the most common scams: phishing emails.
Phishing typically involves emails sent to an employee by a hacker posing as a vendor, coworker, or manager. They will send an email asking the recipient to click a link or open an attachment. If you fall for it, you are opening the door to the hacker; from there, they can infiltrate your system and steal your data. Employees should be trained not to open suspicious emails unless they were expecting them and to confirm with management if they are unsure.
Another scam that can take down a company is ransomware, which is when a hacker can install malware and access your servers, and if they are successful, they can then take control of your computers and lock you out until you pay a hefty fee.
If you cannot afford to have your systems locked down for an undetermined amount of time, then ensure that every employee uses a strong password that uses a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters and that they update the passwords regularly. It is also essential to be aware of small business insider threats. Threats that come from inside the company may be accidental or purposeful.
While your staff may make a mistake from time to time, some upset or recently terminated employees may take advantage of their system access and try to steal information for their benefit. To eliminate that possibility, ensure to revoke an agent’s access as soon as they leave the company. Also, only allow current employees to access the data necessary for their job.
3. Protect your data
Educating your team and being aware of scams is one part of the equation. The other is putting the proper protocols in place to protect your data so a hacker can’t cause extensive damage if they can infiltrate your systems. This is an important step even if you use an existing platform for an online store. The more protection, the better.
At a minimum, your company needs to back up all data to external servers that are separate from the primary system, so if they hacked you, that backup wouldn’t be affected. Then, you can restore your data and get back to business.
To prevent a hacker from getting that far, a proper firewall must be installed, and your systems should be encrypted, so a criminal can’t read the data even if they steal it. Finally, you might consider uploading your programs and data to the cloud. By having the ability to access your work from anywhere, your employees can be more productive.
Plus, many cloud companies have their cyber security teams, so they can help to keep your information protected. Keep in mind that while it is a good solution, cloud computing is still susceptible to a potential data breach and legal risks, so you must also enact your protections.
As you can see, there is a lot to know and learn about protecting your business from a cybercriminal’s actions. Remember these tips and implement the proper protocols; you can mitigate the issues, and your company can succeed.