3 Steps for Defending Your Small Business Against Cyberattacks
It may seem like a daunting task to protect your small business and its digital assets from a cyberattack. However, developing a comprehensive cybersecurity plan typically does not require a significant investment of money or time and it just might save your company from the substantial financial, operational, and reputational damage of an online data breach. Below, the Gilbert Insurance team shares three effective cybersecurity measures, recommended by experts in the field, that most small businesses can easily and economically implement.
Step #1: Identify your most valuable digital assets and where they are held, and then focus resources there
As a smaller business, you may have limited finances, time, and people to dedicate to online security efforts. Instead of trying to spread these precious resources across all digital assets, concentrate them on protecting your most critical and sensitive data. For example, many small businesses store important corporate information, intellectual property, or confidential data on company computers. This means that some of the areas of emphasis in their cybersecurity plan probably should be:
- Installing appropriate antivirus and anti-spyware programs on all company devices and running regular security checks and updates for this software.
- Employing email authentication technology that blocks suspicious emails and requiring multifactor authentication to access company data, sensitive information, or intellectual property.
- Securing and encrypting the company Wi-Fi network and hiding it behind a firewall.
- Providing a virtual private network (VPN) to employees to use when working outside of the office.
Step #2: Educate employees on best cybersecurity practices and their important role in defending the business against cyberattacks
We’re certain you’ve heard the saying, “A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.” Well, when it comes to small business cybersecurity, it’s been proven repeatedly that a company’s employees are typically that weakest link. For this reason, an essential part of your cybersecurity plan should be to train your staff on how to identify a potential cyber scam, such as targeted spear phishing or other types of social engineering campaigns, and to report it immediately to the appropriate person in the company. In addition, they should understand and follow best cybersecurity practices for the workplace, including:
- Using strong, complex passwords of at least 10 characters that include numbers, symbols, and capital and lowercase letters.
- Avoiding opening pop-up windows and links, emails, or attachments from unrecognized senders.
- Ensuring the Wi-Fi they are connecting to—especially if they are working remotely—is secure and not a public network.
- Putting the most up-to-date security software on personal devices they bring to work, like cell phones and smart watches.
Step #3: Back up everything, from critical data to hardware, software, and firmware
Backing up valuable business data and systems is so essential to cybersecurity these days that it now has its own dedicated holiday—World Backup Day, observed every March 31. But we don’t want you to wait for this annual occasion to initiate a data and systems backup plan. If hackers, malware, or ransomware infiltrates your business computers or network, having a backup of your important business files and data—or, better yet, several different backups—typically will result in a quicker post-event recovery. A basic business data backup plan generally includes:
- Creating backups in at least two different formats, like a hard drive and in the cloud.
- Keeping at least one backup at a remote location so it cannot be impacted by the same event that corrupts your main data or systems.
- Establishing a backup schedule that clearly defines how often different types of data hardware, software, and firmware should be backed up.
- Specifying who in the company has responsibility for creating, storing, and accessing backups.
Having a business cyber insurance policy is a crucial step in your cybersecurity strategy
When major corporations worldwide are regularly falling prey to bad actors, it may seem unlikely that you will be able to safeguard your small business and its digital assets from an online attack. However, many large businesses that have been the victim of a cybercrime did not have a sound plan in place for defending their company, employees, and systems.
No matter what size or type of organization you run, it is essential to have a comprehensive cybersecurity plan. If you spend the time to assess your company’s main cyber threats and take steps to address these weaknesses, you may gain confidence that your company’s data and systems are more secure. Still, there is no plan that guarantees you will be able to keep extremely crafty cybercriminals entirely at bay or stop employees from making honest mistakes that may lead to a data breach.
For this reason, Gilbert Insurance encourages all our business insurance clients, from small manufacturing operations to fast-casual restaurants and cannabis retail shops, to consider securing a cyber insurance policy. If your company experiences a cyber incident, having this type of coverage may help mitigate the damages and facilitate a speedier response and recovery. While having a cybersecurity plan will hopefully help prevent issues from occurring in the first place, your cyber insurance policy will typically be there as financial backup for a worst-case scenario.
Please contact a Gilbert professional today for more information about cost-effective cyber insurance coverage for your small business’s specific cyber risks.