Why Cybersecurity is Essential for Small & Medium Business
What is a Cybersecurity Breach?
In simplest terms, a cybersecurity breach is any unauthorized access to your computer systems. That can be as simple as an employee innocently accessing sensitive files that should have been password protected all the way up to a criminal shutdown of your entire network and theft of all your data. Even the most innocent or accidental security breach can have harmful consequences.
Why SMBs Need Protection from Cyber Attacks
The most important thing to know about cybersecurity is that no business is immune to cyber attacks. The biggest security mistake small businesses make is assuming breaches only happen to big corporations or government entities – because those make headlines. It’s easy to assume that if you’re small, you’re flying under the radar and your business or data isn’t worth a hack.
That is a false assumption. Just like in the physical world, thieves and con artists look for easy prey. Small businesses are the easiest to breach because their cybersecurity measures are either non-existent, ineffective, or outdated. The threats are constantly evolving, so security measures put in place a few years go may be useless now.
With everything else you have to deal with to keep your SMB operational and profitable, how are you to stay on top of your cybersecurity? Is it really that important? What can possibly happen if you just hang on to whatever security you have and hope for the best?
As cybersecurity experts who advocate for small businesses, we’d like to answer those questions.
Cybersecurity Attack Outcomes
It’s hard to imagine the impact of a security breach if you haven’t yet experienced one. It’s usually more than a little lost productivity. All your business systems live in your computer network, and if that network is compromised and inaccessible, your entire operation could be shut down for days or weeks.
The short-term loss of revenue is the first ripple. Potential customers who can’t reach you and new customers who can’t connect with you could be lost forever. Existing customers may lose trust, especially if their personal information gets into the hands of cybercriminals. If you’re a medical practice, HIPAA requires data security for your patients, and a breach could mean hefty fines.
The cost of a security breach can be astronomical. Some businesses never recover.
How to Protect Your Business from Cyber Criminals
Just like with the physical security of your home or office, you need layers of security to protect your business. Obviously, you lock your doors and give keys only to those you trust. You may add security cameras and remote monitoring. You keep your eye out for suspicious activity.
With cybersecurity, an unfortunate number of small businesses do not even do the equivalent of locking their doors. Their data is exposed and easily accessible. If your network “doors” are unlocked, it’s just a matter of time before those trolling for easy prey find them and come on in.
Four Steps to Protecting Your Business from Cyber Attacks
Step 1: Awareness
Be aware that your business is indeed vulnerable, even if you’re not storing important information, and you don’t see the value of your data on the dark web. If you have security measures in place, you need to know if they’re working. A Penetration Test will tell you. Penetration Testing, or ethical hacking, is where a trusted cybersecurity company attempts to infiltrate your systems, and then lets you know where they found vulnerabilities. If they can get in, so can a cybercriminal.
Step 2: Know Popular Cyber Threats
Arm yourself and staff with knowledge of existing threats. Some threats sneak in the back door, through vulnerabilities in your systems. Other threats knock on the front door, in a clever disguise, gaining trust from your employees. Those are some of the top cybersecurity threats that trick people into inadvertently providing information, because they assume they are communicating with someone they know and trust.
We’ll get to the types of threats later in this article.
Step 3: Plan your Cyber Defense
Who will guard your network? If you have a staff member with good security cyber expertise and the resources to research and implement security protocols, and keep them updated, that’s an option. This is better than just passively putting in a firewall and assuming you’re safe.
But, a staff person charged with the responsibility of keeping the company network secure, even at their best, is unlikely to be able to continuously monitor all systems, stay on top of current threats, detect suspicious activity, etc., while also performing the job they were hired to do. Adding a dedicated cybersecurity expert to your staff would be expensive, but far less than the cost of a breach.
A better plan would be to put an experienced cybersecurity company in charge of your network security. You’d get far better security at a lower cost than using a staff person. A Managed Security Services Provider (MSSP) will take a comprehensive approach, not just from the technical side, but training your employees on security practices. Your employees are your last line of defense against intrusion. They should know how to identify suspicious email, text messages, voicemail, phone calls, etc., to avoid inadvertently handing over pieces of information to scammers that would help them access your data. Managed Cybersecurity makes sense for small business because it’s a low cost, low stress approach to ensuring your network is safe.
Know Your Industry Security Requirements
Certain industries like healthcare and insurance have specific regulations that require data security because of all the sensitive personal information stored and used. mPowered IT is fully knowledgeable about HIPAA regulations and insurance systems, and can keep you in compliance from a security standpoint.
Even if security is not regulated in your industry, it’s still imperative to keep your customer records secure. Benign information like names and addresses are high value on the dark web. Credit card info, dates of birth, Social Security numbers are an even higher value to criminals. The more data you have on customers, the more secure it needs to be. Losing control of that is bad for your customers and bad for business.
Types of Cybersecurity Threats to Your Business
Outside Cyber Attacks
The threats you hear about most are the ones from outside entities, from random cybercriminals who are looking for vulnerabilities in your system to exploit. They’re either looking to obtain your data to sell or want a payout directly from your business. If they’re after your data, it’s possible for them to get it without you even knowing about it.
- Ransomware – encrypts your files until you pay a ransom for their return.
- Malware – malicious software hidden in your system to steal data, encrypt files, or do other harm.
- Business Email Compromise – email that spoofs a trusted source and tricks businesses into making purchases or sending payments.
- Phishing – a malicious link in an email used to gain access to information.
You may have the best employees in the world, but if they’re not up to speed on security, they would unwittingly be handing over the keys to your network. Some schemes are designed to target employees and have had great success in stealing from payroll and receiving payments for bogus services. Other threats employees can pose are simple things like a messy desk in which sensitive info is left out in the open. It’s very important to educate employees on cybersecurity.
Unfortunately, there are also disgruntled employees who purposely exploit your system for personal gain, or to harm the company. It happens. A good cybersecurity company would be able to detect suspicious activity coming from the inside as well as the outside.
Take Cybersecurity Seriously Now to Prevent Serious Issues Later
The time to get serious about cybersecurity is not after an incident, but before. It’s exponentially harder and more expensive to recover from a cyber than it is to prevent them. mPowered IT provides custom security plans based on the size and needs of your business. We have an experienced security team and the technology to monitor and protect your network 24/7.
Want to know more about cybersecurity for your business? Speak with an expert.