You’ve worked long and hard to create your company from the ground up. Are you doing everything in your power to protect it?
If you are like most business owners, then you might think you are okay with a decent security system and a few cameras. However, as technology evolves, so do the tactics used by criminals to cause your company harm. These days, you must be equally vigilant with cybersecurity, which is especially important as more businesses migrate to the online space. A digital signature has become a necessity.
So, what type of threats are out there, and how can you keep your business from becoming a victim? Let’s look at some basics.
The Importance of Cybersecurity
Enough cannot be said about the importance of cybersecurity, especially for smaller businesses. The major corporations have teams of IT professionals ready to take on any threat, but small business owners are not always up to the task, and cybercriminals know it. CNBC reported that 43% of cyberattacks are aimed at small businesses, and just one attack could cost an average of $200,000. For a small business, that could be too much to take.
Luckily, the world is getting wiser to common cyber threats, and a new generation is joining the front lines. Right now, public schools in Cincinnati are teaching youngsters about the importance of cybersecurity and how they can turn their interest into a full-time career. However, while the future may be bright, you need to think about what you should be doing now to keep your business protected. The key is to be proactive.
Look at every part of your business and create a risk assessment where your team lists all of the potential threats that could hit your business. This could include anything from hackers to robberies and even natural disasters. The next step is to have a plan of action. For example, if your data is stolen, your plan may include informing the customers, sealing any holes that led to the breach, and restoring the information from your back-up systems. Let’s look at some of the more common threats.
Beware of These Threats
Cybercriminals are a clever bunch, and they know exactly what strings to pull to get you or your employees to open the front doors to your company and your network. Hackers have found that utilizing social engineering tactics helps them to manipulate workers emotionally, so they unknowingly create weaknesses in the network. One of the most recognizable methods is through phishing scams, which are emails sent to victims that look like they might come from an authority figure like a boss or a bank. Out of fear, the employee clicks on the included link or attachment, which allows the hacker into your system or unleashes a virus.
Criminals can also scam your business face to face by gleaning private information when they know you aren’t protecting it properly. So you might have customers come into your business, get in line, and simply look over the shoulder of the customer in front of them to see their credit card information or banking pin number. Even savvier fraudsters will put a device called a “card skimmer” on the card slots of ATM machines and gas pumps, so when you insert your card to pay, your payment information goes to them instead of the business.
Then there is the threat of ransomware, which is software that hackers install onto your system by taking advantage of vulnerabilities in your network or website. Once they have a hold of your system, they can shut down your processes and then require you to pay a ransom, usually in bitcoin, in order to get your system up and running again. Having your business down for even a day can be very costly, especially for more time-sensitive businesses like health clinics. This is why it is so important that you are proactive and build your systems with cybersecurity in mind.
Businesses Must Be Proactive
Everyone in your organization must be educated on cybersecurity threats and how to avoid them. Warn your employees about the dangers of phishing emails and ensure that everyone keeps a lookout for suspicious activity, including people hanging around your business who do not belong. Make sure that your website is secure with the proper firewalls and antivirus protection and keep both protections updated on a regular basis. Here’s a good firewall tester online that you can try out.
You need to keep your internal systems protected so only authorized users can use and access them, so ensure that all employees lock their computers when they walk away and use complex passwords complete with letters, numbers, and special characters. Employees should also back-up their information on a regular basis. If your business provides phones or tablets that can be used outside of work, they should be encrypted so private data cannot be read if the device is stolen.
Even the most knowledgeable security experts can’t catch every new threat, so a company should protect itself with business insurance made specifically for online businesses. For example, data breach insurance can be incredibly helpful in the case that you lose customer data either through cybercrime or a system breakdown. Not only can this policy help to alleviate the costs, but the insurer can also send in experts to verify that your specific business is as secure as it needs to be.
Yes, times are changing, and while we love the newest tech that makes our lives easier, it also puts our businesses at risk. Implementing these simple tips could be the difference between a company that thrives or gets left behind.
Noah Rue is a journalist and a digital nomad, fascinated with the intersection between global health, personal wellness, and modern technology. When he isn't frantically updating his news feeds, Noah likes to shut off his devices, head to the beach and read detective novels from the 1930s.