Small and Medium Businesses ( SMBs) aim to offer the best services while keeping their costs as low as possible. But, they might find it challenging to assign a significant budget for cybersecurity measures.
A cybersecurity event has numerous effects. The fallout from a data breach could be massive penalties, loss of customer trust, and hours of downtime. Hence, SMBs must protect themselves from cyber threats, but at scale. They must implement the right measures to create a secure environment, making their offerings more reliable for the customers.
SMBs are likely to have fewer financial and technical resources. Unfortunately, hackers know this fact. Hackers tend to target MSMEs, assuming they have weaker security measures they can easily bypass. Therefore, SMBs need to deploy robust security measures.
As per a report by Digital Ocean, “Small businesses and cybersecurity,” 54% of SMBs stated that they are more concerned about cybersecurity now than a year ago. The report also highlights other security concerns SMBs face. They are-
- lack of time to manage security (25%)
- data loss or data theft (23%)
- ransomware attacks (12%)
- DDoS attacks (10%)
As small firms begin to scale their businesses, they must limit the issues that could cause customer distrust and dissatisfaction. While a breach destroys a firm’s reputation and leads to losses, rebuilding trust takes time.
Here are five ways small businesses can fight cyber risks.
1. Use Secure Networks
Secured tech is one of the best ways to prevent hackers from accessing the data. Setting strong passwords, multi-factor authentication (MFA), and regularly updating your software are all cost-effective measures SMBs can adopt.
A strong password prevents unauthorized access. SMBs must encourage their employees to create complex passwords with numbers, special characters, upper case, and lower case.
The best way to secure the passwords is to store them in a password manager. It enables users to store their passwords in one location. These password managers auto-fill the information so the user does not have to remember it.
Moreover, adding MFA requires users to provide additional information for verification. For instance, a one-time code is sent to their phones for verification.
As per a recent report by Prove, “2023 State of MFA Report,”-
By requiring all employees to use MFA, SMBs can reduce the risks of unauthorized access, even if passwords are hacked.
Outdated software is vulnerable to cyberattacks. Therefore, update the software tools and ensure that security patches and fixes are repaired quickly. Encourage employees to enable automatic updates on their devices or systems to ensure solid data protection.
2. Establish an Incident Response (IR) Plan
As per a recent report by Unit 42, “Incident Response Report 2022,” 70% of incident response cases over the past twelve months were ransomware and business email compromise (BEC).
Establishing an IR plan is a proactive step that helps SMBs handle cyber incidents effectively and helps reduce the impact. A robust IR plan shows the company’s commitment to cybersecurity and builds trust with customers and partners.
For a robust IR plan, SMBs must-
- Identify the data and critical assets and determine which data needs immediate protection. Assets and data include customer data, financial records, intellectual property, and operational systems.
- Determine potential cybersecurity threats faced in the past or could face in the future.
- The threats include data breaches, ransomware attacks, and phishing incidents. This helps understand the potential scenarios and prepare for any future attacks.
- Lastly, for each potential scenario, map out specific response plans. Numerous plans include isolating compromised systems, notifying customers of data breaches, and taking steps to reduce their impact.
3. Encrypt Sensitive Data
As per a report by Thales, “2023 Thales Data Threat Report,”
Encrypting confidential data ensures that the data remains unreadable and unusable without the decryption key. SMBs must implement end-to-end encryption for sensitive communications.
At the same time, encrypt data stored in databases, file servers, and external drives such as USB sticks. SMBs can also use encryption-based devices as extra protection for the data.
A managed IT service provider can assist SMBs to ensure each device is encrypted.
4. Conduct Proper Employee Training
As cyberattacks get increasingly sophisticated, firms must recognize the need for a strong security culture for all employees. As per a recent report by Fortinet, 2023 Security Awareness and Training,”
SMBs must establish basic security practices and policies for employees. This includes requiring strong passwords and establishing appropriate internet use guidelines.
Train employees on essential security practices. This includes using two-factor authentication and setting up strong passwords. Moreover, set rules for handling and protecting customer data and other vital business information.
Conduct workshops on-
- Basic cybersecurity awareness
- Conduct phishing simulations
- Safe online practices
- Incident reporting
5. Have Cybersecurity Insurance
Cyberattacks can lead to substantial financial losses, which can harm SMBs. Additional data recovery costs, legal fees, and regulatory fines can harm small firms. Cyber insurance will help reduce these costs. Moreover, it provides financial support to help firms recover from a severe data breach.
Cybersecurity incident damages the company’s reputation. This results in customers losing their money and trust in the business. Cyber insurance includes coverage for expenses related to reputation management to help gain customers’ confidence in the company.