The biggest myth of the business world is that you can be so small that you won’t be a target. Sure, larger businesses have more users and, therefore, more useful information. They also have more funds and resources that malicious parties could misappropriate.
However, it’s not just about the risk; it’s about the risk-to-reward ratio. Smaller businesses invest less in cybersecurity. This means that it’s easier for hackers to breach their defenses and that it’s easier for them to get away with it.
Still, the bottlenecks of cybersecurity for small businesses are not nearly as narrow as you would think. Small businesses could outsource this aspect (even massive conglomerates do this), find white-label cybersecurity firms, and up the online security game independently.
With that in mind and without further ado, here’s what you need to know about small business cybersecurity.
Why do small businesses need cybersecurity?
According to the latest statistics, about 43% of all cyber-attacks are on small businesses. This is a worrying figure, and it could have serious repercussions on your business.
- Financial loss: You could lose data or funds. While the latter sounds more serious, the first could result in more serious fines and long-lasting reputational damages.
- Regulatory and legal consequences: While no one will charge you for being a victim if you haven’t taken all the measures into action, this will be revealed through an audit.
- Business disruption: Getting back on your feet after the data breach takes time and effort. In other words, facing a business disruption is not uncommon during this time. This is also why data organization is so important, in general.
- Reputational damage: While we’ve already mentioned this, it’s a big problem worth mentioning again. Once people hear that their data isn’t safe in your hands, they’re unlikely to take a risk.
These repercussions have nothing to do with the size of the enterprise. Now, because the statistics clearly state that the risk is significant, it’s more than clear that small business need to take steps to protect themselves.
How to implement cybersecurity in a small business?
First, no small businesses would find it cost-effective to handle their cybersecurity in-house. Outsourcing is the only way. However, you might have to look for several outsourcing opportunities before proceeding.
For instance, you could start with a catch-all approach by outsourcing your managed security services. You should probably also look for agencies that provide security assessment and penetration testing. Fortunately, you’ll likely find an agency providing all of these factors.
Another way to increase your enterprise’s cybersecurity is to look for networking solutions for small businesses. By doing so, you’re actively segmenting and isolating networks on which you share the most sensitive data from the rest of the digital world. In other words, where do you think you’ll be safer from sharks? Swimming in the ocean or swimming in the pool? This equivalence perfectly translates.
Lastly, you want to find someone specializing in security incident response. This is the most important reactive form of defense in cybersecurity situations.
How do you raise awareness among your employees?
As a small business, the recklessness of your employees is the most likely thing to put you at risk. This is why you want to be proactive and raise awareness of cybersecurity threats. There are several ways you can do this.
- Employee training program: The first approach is formal and direct. This way, you’ll teach your employees about phishing, password management, data handling, and incident reporting.
- Make content engaging: The most important thing is that you get the right feedback so that you can determine what works and what doesn’t work. So, you can make quizzes, make regular evaluations, and even create phishing simulations. By gamifying the experience, you’ll increase its effectiveness.
- Remote work security: With more and more people working remotely, it’s getting harder than ever to control all the networks with access to your sensitive data. Sure, in most cases, people are working from home, but what if they’re working from a coffee place via public Wi-Fi? You need to lead a discourse about these topics.
- Great BYOD policy: You shouldn’t prevent your staff from bringing their personal laptop for work or even using their private phone. Just set a BYOD policy and explain the risks (and consequences to them). This will already do a lot.
- Evaluation and improvement: You need to know if the messages that you’re sending are having any effect on your staff. The only way to do this is through continuous evaluation and improvement.
Most importantly, you need to make this systemic. You’ll eventually have to hire new people, so this training process cannot be a one-off. It needs to be systemic.
How much does cybersecurity cost small businesses?
It’s hard to figure out the exact numbers; however, on average, an SMB spends around 10% (9.9% actually) of its annual budget on cybersecurity.
Remember that this is spread across firewalls, 2FA, vulnerability assessment, etc. As you can see, figuring out the finances behind this is fairly complex, which is why more and more people are interested in managed services. This way, you have a single major expense instead of several minor ones.
On the other hand, businesses willing to shop around and negotiate (especially negotiate separately for these factors) can reduce their spending by quite a margin. What you save in money, you spend on time and effort. Just make sure it’s worth it.
This also depends on the industry. For instance, an IT firm is likelier to spend more on cybersecurity. The same goes for tech firms, financial institutions, and healthcare organizations (including insurance companies).
In the end, you can’t afford to ignore your cybersecurity. This is like your insurance policy – you’re spending a fortune on it, hoping you’ll never actually get a chance to use it. However, you need to understand the expenses before you can make them. Start by researching what you need. Then, proceed to make a budget. Finally, understand that technical measures don’t mean much if your team continuously makes mistakes. In other words, educating them is just as important as anything else.
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