In 2023, security company BlackFog found that cybersecurity attacks successfully hit 61% of small and medium businesses within the past year. As many as 43% of all data breaches target small and midsized enterprises, probably because they are less likely to have robust IT and security teams. For small businesses, it is essential to understand what cybersecurity is, what it encapsulates, how to use it, possible cybersecurity compliance requirements, and the impact of cyberattacks.
Do Small Businesses Need Cybersecurity?
Small businesses should invest in cybersecurity for several reasons, especially if they are in the six most vulnerable industries to cyberattacks. First, as many as 40% of small businesses that face severe cyberattacks experience a minimum of eight hours of downtime, which adds to the cost of the breach, and 83% of SMBs are not financially ready to face and recover from cyberattacks.
Essentially, any level or type of cyberattack places your business, partners, and clients at risk, whether related to your data, IT infrastructure, or even financial accounts. Though small companies may underestimate the danger, several reasons make them attractive targets, such as the tendency to store valuable data on poorly secured in-house devices and servers.
Modern businesses also rely heavily on cloud-based and digital tools, increasing their points of possible weakness and resultant entry. Without adequate cybersecurity, smaller companies are vulnerable to attacks that can cause financial losses and reputational damage, not to mention the ripple effect it can cause.
Understanding the Cyber Threat Landscape
Cyber threats for small businesses are constantly evolving, which means you need cybersecurity that can adapt and progress with the times. For example, the rate at which organizations experience ransomware attacks worldwide has risen from 55.1% in 2018 to 72.7% in 2023. Ransomware is only one potential threat to worry about. You can make your business safer by implementing the correct protective measures.
These are the most common cybersecurity threats your small business could face. However, this list is not exhaustive, so hiring comprehensive cybersecurity consulting services can be highly advantageous.
- Social engineering
- Malware, spyware and viruses
- Password or credential attacks
- Distributed denial of service
- Advanced persistent threat
Establishing Cybersecurity for Small Businesses
Cybersecurity threats can damage small businesses. Safeguarding your business, clients, and potential partners begins by prioritizing these crucial steps to create a strategic and robust defense.
1. Build a Cybersecurity Framework
First, identify your business' needs, which will inform everything you do next. For example, you may wish to conduct a risk assessment, create cybersecurity policies, educate your employees, then establish emergency protocols and incident reporting and response procedures.
During this phase, you should consult standardized security frameworks, such as ISO/IEC 27001, NIST Cybersecurity Framework, or NIST 800-53r5, to define the requirements of information security management. Also, you'll want to understand the general and industry-specific compliance and regulatory requirements for your business.
2. Assess Vulnerabilities and Risks
Conducting a cyber risk assessment offers several cybersecurity benefits, allowing you to systematically assess vulnerabilities. This proactive approach includes penetration testing, which we recommend doing at least once a year.
For many of these components, you may need to employ a reputable third party who can also offer additional services such as Managed Extended Detection and Response to detect and respond to further threats in real time.
3. Educate Employees on Cybersecurity Best Practices
According to a report by HP, as much as 69% of office employees bring devices from home to complete work-related tasks and activities. At the same time, nearly a third of remote workers let others use their work devices.
These practices can undermine the hard work and effective cybersecurity frameworks you put in place. Therefore, it is essential to teach employees about cybersecurity best practices, the danger of phishing, the importance of password strength and hygiene, how to respond to a cybersecurity incident, and what to avoid.
4. Ongoing Maintenance and Incident Response
You'll want to initiate ongoing network monitoring and hold regular audits and testing to ensure your security is up to standard and address any weaknesses with vulnerability patching. Also, when you set up your cybersecurity framework, follow the steps to creating a cybersecurity incident response plan to ensure you have all the necessary components.
Finally, please maintain all infrastructure and regularly update your software and hardware. If you experience an attack, it is highly beneficial to have an on-site or remote partner who can assist by offering cyber incident response and digital forensics as quickly and efficiently as possible.
The Best Cybersecurity for Small Business
When establishing your cybersecurity framework, create a robust foundation using an array of cybersecurity tools and software. Various essentials may require tailoring to your particular business needs. However, any small business should also implement standards to defend against diverse threats. Start incorporating these actionable steps today.
- Antivirus software: Install reputable and sophisticated antivirus software on all your work computers, run real-time threat detection, and keep the software up to date.
- Firewall protection: Controlling your network's incoming and outgoing traffic is essential, so you should deploy a reliable firewall to help block threats and protect your hardware and software.
- Access control and authentication: Ensure only authorized people can access your systems. Include unique and strong passwords and two-step authentication, especially for sensitive information that could be vulnerable in case of password cracking.
- Data encryption: Encrypting your data is a highly proactive means of ensuring only authorized personnel can access the sensitive data stored on your network and computers.
- Data backup: It is wise to use data backup solutions on local devices and servers and store a copy offsite at an alternate location to allow for data recovery in a breach.
Speak to ProCircular to Establish Your Effective Cybersecurity
Cybersecurity is complex but not complicated, and prioritizing cybersecurity for small businesses is not merely a defensive measure. It's a strategic, long-term investment that gives your business a competitive edge in an ever-changing digital landscape. As your employees increasingly rely on digital solutions to complete work, having a robust security framework promotes customer trust and helps protect your assets and bottom line.
When you partner with us at ProCircular, we can provide your complete cybersecurity solutions or assist by supplementing your in-house team. We are a professional and solutions-based team that also cares deeply about fostering client relationships and trust.
We encourage you to contact us online today and speak with one of our experts about your small business cybersecurity needs.