Cyber attacks on large companies are reported in news headline after news headline. And, while big names like Target and Home Depot attract widespread attention, there’s virtually no trace of stories about small businesses being forced to shut their doors after a crippling cyber attack.
But, the assumption that hackers only pursue large companies couldn’t be further from the truth.
In fact, a recent study by SCORE, an organization that provides mentoring services to small business owners, found that 43 percent of cyber attacks are targeted at small businesses. And, with the total number of cyber attacks on the rise, small businesses can no longer ignore this big problem.
What can small businesses do to defend themselves from a cyber attack? Read this article to discover four of the best cybersecurity practices your organization can adopt and implement today.
1. Be aware of phishing schemes
According to Verizon’s 2019 Data Breach Investigations Report, which studied over 40,000 security incidents and more than 2,000 data breaches worldwide, 32 percent of reported breaches involved phishing. Phishing occurs when hackers disguise themselves as a trusted source to gain access to information like usernames and passwords.
In order for small businesses to protect themselves from data breaches, especially those involving phishing attacks, your staff needs to know the risks. Perform ongoing or regular training for, like role-playing and information sessions about hacker tactics to ensure your team is able to catch nefarious emails disguised as legitimate sources.
Additionally, instilling a password policy helps protect ancillary accounts from being breached in the aftermath of a phishing scheme. To create unique, complex passwords, consider using a password generator and regenerator. This will not only create secure and virtually invisible passwords for your employees, but it will also ensure your most sensitive data is protected.
2. Take a proactive approach
Allocating the necessary resources for cybersecurity measures can be difficult, especially for small businesses. And many small businesses claim they don’t see the benefit of cybersecurity. Specifically, only 4 percent of small business owners believe having cybersecurity solutions in place will help their business grow.
This statistic is startling. After all, small businesses that experience a cyber attack could experience business-ending downtime, irreparable brand damage, and a slew of legal fees as a result. Protect yourself with at least basic cyber defenses, such as routine backups and password security, so you can create space between your business, a cybercriminal, and the ramifications of an attack.
3. Assume you are a target
Failing to prepare for a potential threat could mean the end of your business. Though that sounds sensationalist, it’s a very true reality. So to stay ahead of cybercrime, continue to remind yourself, and your staff that you could be a target.
Reinforce the urgency of awareness through written policies that inform your team what to do in case of a cyber attack. Remind them what red flags might indicate a potential threat, and what documentation should be created to help prevent future risks.
4. Make cybersecurity a top priority
A survey by AT&T found that only 53 percent of small and medium-sized organizations place a high priority on cybersecurity. Moreover, the study also found that only 30 percent of small businesses have an employee-training program in place to protect against and recover from cyber attacks. For comprehensive security, the culture of concern must start from the top and work its way down. Small business owners must emphasize the importance of cybersecurity, and lead by example in following processes and policies.
And remember, taking the necessary steps to protect your small business and your data doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive.