Updated: Aug 16
In today’s digital age, the importance of a robust cybersecurity plan for small businesses cannot be overstated. With an alarming 43% of all data breaches targeting small businesses, it’s clear that these firms are in the crosshairs of cybercriminals. The reason? Most small businesses lack the necessary computer systems and data protection measures, making them easy targets.
Despite the evident risks, a staggering 83% of small business owners have not implemented cybersecurity, according to Advisor Smith research. This lack of preparedness can have devastating consequences. A report from Security Magazine reveals that 60% of small businesses that fall victim to a data breach close their doors permanently within six months of the attack.
Logan Edmonds, CEO of Tabernacle Technology Solutions, often hears business owners say, “Nothing has happened to us yet, so it must not be a big deal, right?” To this, Edmonds responds, “Sadly, in the current environment, its not a matter of IF but WHEN someone will try to hack your small business.”
The Journey Begins with Risk Assessment
It is crucial to assess potential vulnerabilities and liabilities, according to Edmonds.
In his view, most firms don't see the need for change until after a hacking incident occurs. The true cost of an attack is not just financial; it also damages customers and business relationships.
A company-wide risk assessment is the first step when developing a plan. "Risk Assessments are important, because they paint a wholistic picture of the organizations needs. They empower the organization to make cyber security decisions based on facts, not fear.” Edmonds said.
The Value of Backups
Edmonds also stresses the importance of establishing a backup system, and preparing for potential disruptions . A typical hacker is on a random hunting (or “phishing”) expedition to exploit perimeter weaknesses and find ways to create gain at the expense of the firm they are attacking.
The question is, what can be done to identify, address, and prevent risks to reduce business costs?
Developing a Security Strategy
As part of his security strategy, Edmonds discusses policies and procedures, user education, and the adoption of both basic and advanced security technology.In accordance with the budget available, this strategy can be implemented now and expanded in layers or tiers over time.
Anti-spam filters, email fraud detection, antivirus software, firewalls, virtual private networks (VPNs), encryption, network intrusion alerts, and security monitoring are some of the most common intrusion prevention tools. Systems behavior engines, penetration testing, packet analyzer scanning, employee monitoring software, and offsite managed services are some advanced solutions.
The Human Factor and Employee Education
According to Edmonds, focusing on the human factor and the benefits of cybersecurity are essential.As he explains, many "attacks" begin with employee errors or deliberate actions.
"A small company's employees have access to software, files, and vital information that are usually locked down in the corporate world." according to Edmonds. Data that is sensitive must be controlled and limited, as well as employees' access to it must be strictly defined.In formal training sessions, this can be explained in detail.
It's also important to teach staff members how to detect scams, why they shouldn't click on, or reply to suspicious emails, and how to record and report any attempts.A reduction in cyber liability insurance costs can also be achieved through employee education.
For small businesses, developing and implementing a cybersecurity plan is not just a luxury, but a necessity.There is a much higher cost associated with doing nothing than mitigating the risk.The time has come for small businesses to take cybersecurity seriously and protect their assets, customers, and future.
About the author:
CEO & Chief Security Officer at Tabernacle Technology Solutions
Logan specializes in advising small to medium sized businesses on the best avenues and practices of managing their risk as it relates to protecting their bottom line from cyber-attacks. He is the best-selling author of "The small business owner's guide to protecting your business from hackers."