If you run a small business, cyber security protocols could be your key to happy customers.
From Equifax to Yahoo, and Home Depot to JPMorgan Chase, data breaches and identity theft seem to be an ongoing news story. In theory, these multinational corporations have some of the tightest and most advanced cyber security in the world. And even though these big stories make headlines, the risk for a small business cyber security breach is even greater.
A 2016 study found that 50% of the 600 small- and medium-sized businesses in the survey had a security breach that year. An IBM study quoted by The Denver Post suggests that small businesses are the target of 62% of all cyber attacks.
In case you're counting, that's over 14 million small businesses. In contrast, a CNBC article points out that 87% "of small-business owners don't feel that they're at risk of a cybersecurity attack, and 1 in 3 small businesses don't have the tools in place—firewalls, antivirus software, spam filters, or data-encryption tools—to protect themselves."
What do all those numbers mean? In short, small business cyber security is too often ignored and almost guarantees that your business is an unprotected target of cyber criminals.
Small Business Cyber Security
Despite the fearsome numbers, most cyber security is simple and easy for even the most non-technical people among us. Here are some of the easiest and often overlooked ways to keep your business safe.
1. Keep up with software updates
Whether it's your browser, your operating system, or your security software, stay up to date with updates. Some may seem irrelevant, but they add up, especially when updates are a direct response to a known security threat.
2. Back up your data
According to Small Business Trends, hackers will hijack your data and demand a ransom to give it back. If you have a secure backup, you already have a copy of the data, so you at least have what you need to keep your business running. The downside, of course, is that the stolen data is now out of your control, but if you don't have a backup, the situation could be even worse.
3. Use two-factor authentication
A good hacking program can get through your password easily—especially if it's "password" or "123123" or some of the other overused and weak passwords. Two-factor authentication gives you a double layer of protection against these hacking attempts.
A strong password is your first step in two-factor authentication. The second layer of protection, for many websites, is an authentication code that gets sent to your phone, for instance. This won't automatically protect you from a cyber attack, but it does make it more difficult to access your sensitive information.
4. Use a firewall
According to Microsoft, a firewall is a software program or hardware designed to "screen out hackers, viruses, and worms that try to reach your computer over the Internet." There is no good reason to skip a firewall. It's one of the easiest steps you can take in small business cyber security protection.
5. Protect your Wi-Fi
Your Wi-Fi connection is an open door for a smart hacker. The Small Business Administration recommends hiding your Wi-Fi network and setting up a separate system for customers if you need to.
6. Hire a hacker
One of the best ways to find the weakness in your security is to hire someone trustworthy to hack into your system. Find out what data they can access, then make changes to shore up those weak points.
7. Put a cyber security policy in place
All the strong passwords and backups won't help you if someone in your business gets lazy about the importance of security protocols. Create a policy specific to your needs and ensure that everyone follows the rules. Remind them that a risk to the business is also a risk to them if you have any electronic employment records.
8. Train your team
While a cyber security policy is important, training your team is the best way to equip employees to handle sensitive information, potential hackers, phishing scams, and other cyber crime activity.
9. Plan to get hacked
Even with security protocols in place, your business could still get hacked, putting a lot of information at risk. Rather than panicking and trying to figure out what to do, put a plan in place ahead of time. The ideal, of course, is to lock out cyber criminals, but like any business emergency, preparation for the worst is your key to doing your best.
Take advantage of cyber security resources.
The National Cyber Security Alliance has plenty of tips and worksheets for helping you with your small business cyber security. Likewise, the Small Business Administration has a list of cyber security resources, including advisors and security assessment tools.
It's also important to have insurance to cover data breaches and cyber attacks. At Pekin Insurance, Data Compromise Coverage is more affordable than you might think. Get in touch with your Pekin Insurance agent today to learn more.