Cybersecurity Solutions for Small Businesses
If you think your small business is not at risk for a cybersecurity threat – think again. Small businesses that appear inconspicuous can often be a prime target for those looking to hack into a system. After all, data is data, and to a cyber-attacker looking for information to steal, your stored customer data may be valuable.
You might wonder why a cyber-attacker would choose a small business rather than a large corporation with greater assets. It can simply come down to the belief that a small business equates to a smaller team with even smaller cyber security measures. And while you may hear of cyber-attacks hitting large corporations more often, there is usually a strong team of cybersecurity experts there to help the corporation recover. For a small business, this is not usually the case.
As a small business owner, you likely wear many hats as it is, and being an IT expert may not be one you are familiar with. However, implementing cybersecurity solutions does not have to be difficult. Small changes or additions that you can implement now can have your future self thanking you.
Below we have outlined what cybersecurity is and solutions that you can implement as soon as possible, leaving your small business safer from cybercriminals.
What is cybersecurity?
Cybersecurity equates to computer security. To help protect computer systems, data, networks, devices, and/or servers (among others), one can implement cybersecurity tools and software to help protect against malicious attacks.
There are various types of cybersecurity options that can protect the different aspects of your business that you want to keep secure. They can range from virus protection software to simply opting for multi-factor authentication. For your small business, it may come down to finding the devices, systems, or software that your business uses to hold valuable information (i.e., customer information, credit card details, etc.) and determining what steps need to be taken within each aspect to ensure a cyber-attack won’t occur.
What type of threats face small business owners?
Based on a recent report published by Verizon, the main threat that a “very small business” (fewer than ten employees), may face is a ransomware attack. This is a type of malicious software that encrypts data, making you unable to view or use it in any way. According to the report, the “solution” to unencrypt the data, in the eyes of the cyber-attacker, is often a significant monetary demand, which can be unimaginable for a small business owner to pay.
According to the report, using stolen credit cards is the second most common cyber threat. As a small business owner, you likely have your own details and customer details stored in your system. Many cyber-attackers can use either automation, malware, or phishing and pretexting to get to that information. Cybercriminals can create documents or emails that appear legitimate but can include malicious links to steal information or try and get you to input sensitive information, such as credit card details.
From a general standpoint, recent data has found that 43% of cyber-attacks were targeted toward small businesses, while only 14% could defend themselves from the attack. Meanwhile, 61% of small – to medium-sized businesses reported a minimum of one cyber-attack within the previous year. As a result of a severe data breach, a benchmark study discovered that 40% of small businesses had eight or more hours of downtime as a result, which can immensely interfere with business operations.
Always update your systems and software
On your personal computer, you may get a persistent notification asking you to update your software, but this may not be the case with your business’s operating system. Certain software may need to be manually updated, so it is important to stay on top of what is available.
Older versions are more susceptible to cyber-attacks, and by updating, you can benefit from the security upgrades that often come with the system/software update.
Include your team members in a cybersecurity plan
Cybersecurity should involve everyone in your small business, even if their role and responsibilities are not necessarily tech-based. A recent report found that insider threat incidents have increased by 44% in the last couple of years, while 56% of cyber incidents resulted from employee negligence, such as accidentally clicking on a malicious link in an email. In fact, other recent findings have suggested that small businesses, in particular, face data breaches, phishing, and ransomware attacks mainly due to a “negligent insider,” further highlighting the importance for group education about cybersecurity.
Informing your employees about what a cyber-attack is and how it may appear as a seemingly “normal” email or pop-up, for example, is a good place to start. From there, implementing training on a consistent basis can be a great way to keep cybersecurity top of mind in case you or one of your team members catches a piece of malicious content. While discussing the topic, it can also be an ideal time to set up a plan if a cyber-attack occurs. This could look like finding an IT expert, for instance, that can help if you or one of your employees calls.
Whether in your personal life or in your small business, password strength is extremely important. A study on cybersecurity within small to medium-sized businesses found that 40% of respondents had their employees’ passwords compromised, and weak passwords are often to blame.
To create a strong password, aim for a mixture of letters and numbers, upper and lowercase, and symbols (if allowed). The more obscure the password, the better. Using the name of your business, employee names, or personal details that connect to your business should be avoided. Or use an automated program like LastPass to generate strong, encrypted passwords for all of your logins.
It is important to change your password approximately every three months, as this can limit the chance of a cybercriminal figuring out your current password at any given point in time.
Apply multi-factor authentication
Multi-factor authentication (MFA) requires you to take an extra step when signing into a device, which can either look like inputting a special code or pin that was sent via email or text message or generated in an app (i.e., Google Authenticator).
Think of MFA similar to a wall being built. There are multiple layers needed to keep it strong, and implementing multi-factor authentication in your login process can achieve the same thing.
A study by the Cyber Readiness Institute found that out of the small and medium-sized businesses they surveyed, 55% were not aware of the benefits of MFA, with 54% reported not using MFA within their business. The same study also found that almost 60% of business owners have not brought up MFA to their employees, while 20% that do use it, do not train their employees on how to use it.
Not only is implementing MFA into your small business important but informing your employees about its benefits is also critical.
Consider cyber insurance
If your system has a data breach or someone hacks into it, there will likely be some significant costs associated with it, along with associated legal fees. Cyber insurance can provide a safety net if an unfortunate instance does occur, and may be the difference between saving or losing your business, especially since 60% of small businesses go out of business within a six-month period because of a cyber-attack.
As with most types of insurance, there can be tiers of coverage that can vary in price, but if you are a small business with any type of computer system with data or use a point-of-sale system, you may want to strongly consider opting for coverage.
Small Business Solutions with The UPS Store
If you are a small business owner looking for assistance with shipping, printing, document shredding, and more, be sure to check out The UPS Store at a location near you. With our Small Business Solutions, we can help support your business any step of the way.