Small businesses are typically at higher risk of cyber attacks than larger enterprises. As a result, SMBs will need to follow cyber-security best practices will ensure security resilience.
Small businesses are particularly vulnerable to cyber attacks as they are easy targets. This is because larger businesses typically have robust security processes, which help prevent attacks. As threat actors know that SMBs may not have many cybersecurity solutions, they often target small businesses.
According to the cybercrime study by Accenture,
With such low levels of preparedness, the impact of a cyber attack means the destruction of the brand. The biggest threat they face is ransom after data theft.
Significance of Cybersecurity for Small Businesses
Cybersecurity is important for small businesses because it protects digital systems, networks, and data from unauthorized access, theft, or damage. It can help protect against data breaches, ransomware attacks, phishing scams, and business email compromise.
According to Astras data in its blog 51 Small Business Cyber Attack Statistics 2023 (And What You Can Do About Them), ‘ On average, SMBs spend between $826 and $653,587 on cybersecurity incidents.”
This is a huge burden for SMBs at any stage of their growth. So, they need a security strategy that follows best practices to secure their businesses.
Cybersecurity Initiatives for Small Businesses
1. Conduct a Security Assessment
SMBs should have an in-house IT team to conduct regular security assessments. They can work with a security MSP to assess the security posture. These assessments help the company identify the blind spots that the hackers can exploit.
2. Require Strong Passwords and Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)
An easy way to improve cybersecurity is to create strong passwords- different passwords for all accounts. A strong password must have the following:
- Ten characters or more
- At least one lowercase letter
- At least one number
- At least one lowercase letter
- At least one unique character
- At least one uppercase letter
Having several layers of authentication (MFA) could add layers of security. Multifactor authentication needs users to verify themselves in two or more ways to sign into their account. This makes it more secure than conventional single-factor authentication. Organizations should go for MFA before employees can have access to any data about the firm.
3. Employee Cybersecurity Training
Employee cybersecurity training should be conducted quarterly or at least once a year.
As employees have direct access to company systems, they are the leading cause of data breaches in all companies.
SMBs are no different. Often, SMBs have smaller teams, so their access to data is more open, especially if it is a start-up. That is where the risk increases.
Employees must be educated on recognizing signs of a data breach, how cybercriminals can infiltrate systems, and how to stay safe while using the company’s network.
Training for employees on cybersecurity best practices for small businesses can cover the following:
- Preventing suspicious downloads
- Utilizing good browsing practices
- Safeguarding sensitive customer and vendor information
- Spotting a vulnerable email
- Maintaining good cyber hygiene
4. Segmented and Limited Access to Company Data and Information
Limiting employee access to data and systems can help in the event of a deliberate attack from a malicious employee or a hacker. Employees should be provided access only to the systems and data required to perform their jobs.
A large percentage of cyber threats come from inside the companies. Companies must know what harm a hostile employee or a single comprised account can do. They need to maintain tight user access restrictions.
5. Backup Data
Companies should back up all data on all systems regularly. Critical data comprises databases, electronic spreadsheets, accounts receivable/payable files, human resources files, financial files, and word processing documents. It is better to back up data automatically, or companies can do it at least weekly. Store the copies either in the cloud or offsite.
6. Keep Software Up-to-date
Regular updation of software will allow companies to get the latest security improvements and fixes. It helps the devices stay protected and run efficiently.
This is critical because hackers continually scan for security vulnerabilities. An outdated tech stack presents vulnerabilities. So, it can significantly increase the chances of an attack.
7. Implement Formal Security Policies
It is essential to create and enforce security policies for lockdown systems. As it can be a potential endpoint for hackers, securing the network is extremely important. IT departments in small and medium companies should hold regular trainings, seminars, and meetings on cybersecurity best practices for smaller businesses.
Some cybersecurity best practices are securing remote access, protecting cardholder data, using a firewall, keeping a record of who is authorized to access data, auditing privileged access, and documenting procedures thoroughly and clearly. These best practices can be included in the security policies of companies.
Cybersecurity is vital for small businesses. It may be possible for bigger enterprises to bounce back even after a particularly bad cyber-attack. But smaller businesses stand to lose a lot, not only in business but also in long-term reputation.
They often sit ducks for attackers who only want entry into third-party bigger companies. Knowing the significance, SMBs can follow the cybersecurity best practices for small businesses and be on the safer side.