As a small business owner, you might feel a bit like David in a world of Goliaths, as they say, especially when it comes to cybersecurity. The reality, however, is that small businesses are often the most appealing targets for cyberattacks. As the one wearing multiple hats—CEO, CFO, CMO, and now even CISO (Chief Information Security Officer)—how do you protect your business without breaking the bank?
The Rising Tide of Cyberattacks on Small Businesses
Let’s dispel a common myth: “We’re too small to be noticed by cybercriminals.” In recent years, cyberattacks against small businesses have surged. In fact, 43% of all cyberattacks are aimed at small businesses. The reasons are clear: limited resources for cybersecurity make smaller enterprises attractive prey for cybercriminals.
And these are not just minor inconveniences. A successful cyberattack can lead to devastating consequences, including data loss, tarnished reputation, and severe revenue setbacks. What’s worse, many smaller companies may not survive a major breach, with some statistics suggesting that up to 60% of small businesses that experience a significant cyber breach go out of business within six months.
Understanding Your Vulnerabilities
In 2023, the landscape of threats has grown more diverse and complex. Here are three key areas that you need to keep an eye on:
- Password Security: The most common passwords can be guessed by hackers in less than a second. Avoid easily guessable information such as your name, your company’s name, or your birth date when creating your passwords. Opt for complex passwords with special characters instead.
- Outdated Software and Plugins: Outdated software and vulnerable plugins, themes, redunant code etc are the leading cause of malware infections. Regular updates are essential as they often include fixes for bugs and security holes.
- Brute Force Attacks: These attacks have become increasingly common. Measures such as two-factor authentication, CAPTCHA, limiting login attempts, and restricting access to authentication URLs can help safeguard against them.
- Web App Vulns: Injection Vulnerabilities, IDOR Vulnerabilities. See OWASP Top 10
Affordable Cybersecurity Strategies
Addressing these vulnerabilities does not necessarily mean spending thousands of dollars or hiring dedicated IT personnel. Here are some cost-effective measures that you can take to safeguard your business:
- Update Your Security Software: Keep your software up to date. Automate security updates where possible. Consider antivirus software providers such as MacAfee or Norton for additional protection.
- Protect Your Files: Regularly back up important files offline, as well as in the cloud and on external hard drives.
- Create Strong Passwords and Enable Multi-factor Authentication: Use strong passwords that include numbers, characters, and different cases. Update your passwords every 2-3 months and use different passwords for different devices. Multi-factor authentication can provide an extra layer of protection.
- Secure Your Router: Change the default network name and password provided by your internet service provider. Update it with your own network name and password and disable the remote management function.
- Train Your Staff: Regularly train your staff on cybersecurity best practices and risk factors. This can be done quarterly or biannually, depending on your business needs.
- Enabling Firewall: Firewall protection is one of the most efficient cybersecurity solutions for small businesses to protect themselves against attacks. It allows businesses to protect their website and organizational data from unauthorized users, monitor traffic, and inspect network packets. Firewalls also help protect company networks and systems against any trojans that hackers use to collect information, enhance privacy and access control, protect from phishing attacks, and provide alerts about malicious activity.
- Using Identity and Access Management Solution: These solutions help small businesses limit, monitor, and control access to data and organizational resources. They prevent and identify unauthorized sources attempting to gain access. They use multi-factor authentication, which enables small businesses to implement authorization protocols such as facial recognition, iris scanning, and biometric verification. They also help eliminate the use of exploitable passwords and mitigate insider threats.
- Ensuring Network Security: Network security protocols use various techniques such as firewalls, encryption, and access control to secure all layers of a business’s network. They ensure that data is scrambled before being transferred and that unauthorized users cannot access it. Small businesses can implement network security by using multi-factor authentication, securing wireless connections, and using antivirus software.
- Implementing Cloud Security: Third-party cloud-based solutions are often the most vulnerable due to the lack of visibility. Therefore, developing a cloud security strategy is critical when using such solutions. Businesses should focus on implementing end-to-end encryption for protection against breaches and ransomware, conduct access and vulnerability assessments, and implement secure data transfers.
- Prioritizing Data Protection: When implementing cybersecurity, small businesses should develop a strategy for prioritizing data protection. They should determine which organizational data is critical, who has access to it, and where it’s being used. Once the data has been identified, they can prevent unnecessary remote access and use multi-factor authentication to ensure that only verified users can access the data.
- Disaster Recovery (DR) Plan: Developing and implementing a DR plan is critical to cybersecurity. It allows small businesses to define the required course of action that needs to be taken to ensure business continuity after a breach. A DR plan improves productivity due to the allocation of responsibilities and minimizes downtime.
- Audit your company code:
Any and all code bases should be routiently audited by professionals.
In the end, cybersecurity for small businesses is about being aware and being prepared. Even with a modest budget, you can take significant steps towards protecting your business from cyber threats. Remember, in this digital age, every business is a tech business, and every business owner needs to think about cybersecurity.
Want more? Why not download Cisco’s eBook “Small Businesses Deserve Big Protection to learn how to get enterprise-grade security on a small business budget”
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Remember, CyberSecurity Starts With You!
- Globally, 30,000 websites are hacked daily.
- 64% of companies worldwide have experienced at least one form of a cyber attack.
- There were 20M breached records in March 2021.
- In 2020, ransomware cases grew by 150%.
- Email is responsible for around 94% of all malware.
- Every 39 seconds, there is a new attack somewhere on the web.
- An average of around 24,000 malicious mobile apps are blocked daily on the internet.