The importance of cyber security for small businesses

Are small businesses ‘easy targets’ for hackers? Yes. Discover 16 ways to start protecting yourself today in this article.

In an age where data drives decisions, it's crucial for every business to protect its digital assets. While massive corporations are the ones that make headlines when they suffer from cyber-attacks, small businesses are not immune. The great news is that once you know the reasons why you must embrace cyber security in your business, in this article we outline all the ways you can start.

Why is cyber security important for small businesses?

You might be surprised to know that many cybercriminals target small businesses. Why? Because they often lack the robust cyber security measures that larger corporations have. That vulnerability can lead to a data breach or other cyber crimes, which can financially and reputationally devastate businesses.

What’s more, while modern technology has enabled us to access business data from anywhere, it has also exposed new points of vulnerability. Think about the apps and tools employees use to make their tasks easier. Some apps may seem handy, such as PDF or image conversion tools, but if they’re not officially sanctioned, they’re known as 'Shadow IT' because they could be doorways for cybercriminals to enter uninvited.

Then there’s the rise of smart devices – with each new Bluetooth speaker, smart fridge, or doorbell comes a potential entry point for cyber mischief.

What are the 5 reasons why cyber security is important now more than ever?

  1. Protection from Financial Losses: Last year alone, the global average cost of a data breach was USD 4.45 million, a 15% increase over 3 years. Behind these figures are not just direct costs, but also loss of trust, reputation, and loyal customers.

  2. Growing Number of Devices: With billions of connected devices around, every single device could be a potential target. Protecting each of these becomes crucial to ensuring a secure network.

  3. Knowledgeable Cyber Criminals: The modern hacker isn’t just a solo mischief-maker. They have forums, networks, and tools, making it easier for them to find vulnerabilities.

  4. Faster Detection: On average, it takes nearly 287 days to detect and contain a data breach. A solid cyber security strategy can reduce this time, helping businesses bounce back faster.

  5. Promotion of Trust: When customers know you prioritise their data's security, it builds trust. They’ll be more likely to engage with a business they believe protects their personal information.

How can cyber security protect your business? (16 ways)

We appreciate that ‘cyber security’ might sound overly technical to some business owners, so let’s demystify it by breaking it down into a list of 16 actions you can take:

  1. Educate and Train Your Staff: Ensure that all employees are aware of common cyber threats like phishing. Regular training can help them recognise potential threats.

  2. Use Strong Passwords and Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA): Encourage the use of

    complex passwords and change them regularly. MFA adds an extra layer of security.

  3. Keep Software Updated: This includes operating systems, applications, and antivirus programs.

  4. Backup Data Regularly: Backing up all data, either in the cloud or on an external hard drive, helps in case of ransomware attacks or data losses.

  5. Set up a Firewall: A firewall can help screen out hackers, viruses, and other malicious activities. Some operating systems come with a built-in firewall, so ensure it's activated.

  6. Secure Wi-Fi Networks: Ensure your Wi-Fi network is secure, encrypted, and hidden – don’t broadcast your network name to your neighbourhood.

  7. Limit Access: Use access controls to only allow trusted individuals to access sensitive business information, and do not provide any one employee with access to all data systems.

  8. Regular Security Assessments: Regularly assess your security measures. Consider outsourcing vulnerability assessments and penetration testing.

  9. Mobile Device Management: If your employees use mobile devices for work, consider using mobile device management solutions that help you control and secure business data on these devices.

  10. Use Encryption: Encrypt sensitive business data, especially when transmitting it across networks.

  11. Secure Physical Access: Lock rooms and cabinets where sensitive hardware or data might be stored to prevent unauthorised staff from accessing them and lock your computer screen with a password before leaving it unattended.

  12. Regularly Monitor and Audit: Keep and regularly review logs of network activity. Investigate anomalies immediately.

  13. Have Incident Response and Disaster Recovery Plans: This helps your business respond promptly when a cyber incident occurs, minimising damage and recovery time.

  14. Stay Updated on the Latest Threats: Cyber threats evolve constantly. Join relevant online forums, subscribe to cybersecurity news sources, or partner with IT security firms to stay informed.

  15. Use Secure Payment Systems: Embrace secure, well-established payment systems, and continually validate and assess their security. Beware of potential payment scams and educate employees about them.

  16. Work with Reputed Vendors: Ensure that third-party vendors also follow best practices in cybersecurity.

To conclude, cyber security for small businesses is not just a necessity; it’s an investment in the future of your business. As you make your way through the above list of actions, you're not just guarding against potential threats, but you're also building a foundation of trust with your customers.

Struggling with setting up your cyber security strategy? Get 1-2-1 support by speaking to one of our V-Hub Digital Advisers.

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