In 2020 alone, cyber attacks against small businesses increased by 424%. Small businesses are now the number one target for cybercriminals, and a recent survey showed that more than 76% of small business owners are unprepared against various cyber threats.
As entrepreneurs in the digital age, we’re surrounded by screens – leaving a significant amount of our data and information up for grabs. From the computers in our office to the smartphones in our pockets, we’re never more than one click away from what could be a business-threatening cyber attack.
With so many risks, have you truly taken the time to ensure your business’ privacy, as well as your own personal safety? It’s vital to build a tech environment that keeps out hackers, viruses, and other unwanted intrusions. This blog post will walk you through six ways to start taking cybersecurity seriously, so you can protect your information, clients, and bottom line.
Create a risk management plan
At least once a year, you should be sitting down with your team to assess your business's risks. Start by making a list of your greatest tangible and intangible business assets, keeping your list to 5-10 total. Rank these assets regarding their value—low, medium, or high.
Then, think about what could threaten these assets or impact their value. Next, choose a handful of threats for each asset and ask yourself:
1. How likely is this threat to materialize?
2. How will I detect if this threat is coming/beginning to materialize?
3. What should I do, if anything, to reduce the likelihood of this threat materializing?
4. What is the cost/impact if this threat does materialize?
5. How can I mitigate this impact?
Becoming aware of the risks you’re up against is a fantastic way to prepare your business for the unexpected.
Make a staffing continuity plan
If you’re lucky enough to have a team working behind the scenes of your business, you must solidify your onboarding and offboarding processes to reduce any windows where there’s a gap in your workflows.
Begin by identifying your business-critical staff (including yourself!). Then, ask each of your employees to recommend their successor in case they decide to pursue a different opportunity. You should also ask them to create SOPs and document their responsibilities, so new hires won’t take as much time to come to speed.
Reassure your team that this is a standard business practice – you’re simply covering all of your bases. The better you write this up, the better prepared you’ll be if someone decides to leave your company. In addition, you’ll rest easier knowing you have a solid plan in place should your business experience any staffing changes.
Watch for phishing scams
Email is one of the most popular places hackers gain access to confidential data and information. They operate under phishing scams – disguising themself as trusted sources, so users are more likely to take action. For example, emails that encourage you to update your account details and reset your password could actually be cybercriminals waiting to gain access to your login credentials.
These emails can even look like legitimate messages from brands you know and love. So, what can you do? First, dissect emails before opening them. Make a note of the address in particular. Watch for grammatical errors, inconsistent branding, and what’s in the signature. If anything is out of the ordinary, it could be a scam.
Implement basic cybersecurity training
According to cybersecurity intelligence, human error causes 90% of security breaches. So to prevent this from happening under your roof, consider implementing quarterly security training for your team. Many firms offer this as a service, allowing you to get the information you need without going out of your way.
With scams such as phishing becoming more prevalent by the day, you’ll want to work with a technological specialist who understands the latest threats. They will walk you through what you pay attention to, ensuring your team is alert and ready to report anything unusual. The more you learn about security threats, the more you’ll be able to identify them as they arise.
Create a password policy
Whether you’re working with a team or flying solo, implementing a password policy is an excellent way to keep hackers away from your information. Unfortunately, sites are hacked daily, with cybercriminals stealing entire password databases. That’s why it’s essential never to repeat a password or use common information that’s easy for hackers to guess.
Try using a random password generator for each of your accounts. Use features such as multi-factor authentication to add an extra layer of protection as well. It’s time to say goodbye to simple passwords and instead put in the effort required to keep your information out of the wrong hands!
With the world of technology expanding by the day, you’ll want to take the steps needed to keep your business safe and profits high. The last thing you want is to become another cybersecurity statistic! Start safeguarding your information today, so you sleep better knowing your clients, reputation, and livelihood are protected.
Elizabeth Sheils is the co-founder of Rock Paper Coin, the first software platform to bring together wedding planners, couples, and vendors into one system for managing and paying contracts and invoices. Elizabeth is also a lead wedding planner with award-winning firm Bridal Bliss, where she manages the Seattle team. In addition to recognition by Special Events in its Top 25 Event Pros to Watch series, she also earned a spot in The BizBash 500 for 2021.