It’s far too easy for small business owners to dismiss the warnings that they need to protect their companies from cyber threats. Sometimes, they don’t believe they have the budget to make the appropriate fixes. Other times, they think they’re too small of a fish in a large pond to attract hackers — but that’s a big mistake. Cybercriminals want any data they can get and will often target smaller organizations because they know you’re not protected.

Change that today by educating yourself on the threat of cybercrime and get your employees in on the act as well. You may think there’s nothing you can do, but by educating your teams, using the tools at your disposal, and knowing how to react in the event of an attack, you can protect your business.

Educate Your Team About the Risks

Even if you and your management teams know that cyber threats are out there, if your team isn’t part of the solution, there’s still a big chance of a breach. Cybercrime tactics are evolving, and while a virus can bring down a computer or an employee can leak information, there are even larger threats, like the risk of ransomware. If a hacker gains control of your systems and takes them hostage, you’ll either lose a lot of money or customers while trying to fix the problem.

Luckily, there are ways to mitigate the damage associated with ransomware, like having proper backups stored and ready to go, but you still don’t want to leave the possibility that a hacker can jeopardize your whole organization on the table. The same goes for any type of scam, from Trojan horse attacks to malware infestations.

Fortunately, you can start with simple steps. There are plenty of low-tech approaches to deal with cyberthreats, including the aforementioned offline backups and employee education. If cybersecurity training is not part of your new employee orientation, then it should be, and you also need to get your existing workers up to speed.

During your employee training program, teach your staff about the risks and common strategies hackers use, like phishing scams, and the warning signs they should watch out for every day. Once the training is complete, instill expectations moving forward for what your teams will do to prevent cybercrime and have them sign off on their understanding so they can be held accountable later on.

Even Small Businesses Have Valuable Tools

There are certain technologies that every small business should have. They include a good inventory management system, a functioning website, and at least one cybersecurity solution. Many companies out on the market offer a software package that you can use to run scans on your systems for threats and take steps to contain those threats if they become a reality. You can either look into a comprehensive solution or add software based on what you’re missing, like a good firewall, a network scanner, and encryption programs.

If you don’t know what you’re looking for, it may be time to get online and find an expert or find an IT professional. A good one can help you navigate these murky waters. Your budget may not be robust, but when you consider that one out of every eight businesses is destroyed by a data breach, it’s not worth the gamble. There are many companies out there that are exclusively dedicated to the security of small businesses.

Before attempting to choose the best IT company for your business, put serious thought into what your company requires. Do you have an educated staff who can catch most issues, or do you have extensive technical needs? Figure out the specific type of help you require so that you can spend your smaller budget wisely.

As a smaller business with fewer employees, you may not necessarily need to look into comprehensive solutions to protect your teams. Don’t overthink it. Instead, look into tools like an ad-blocking browser extension that will prevent unwanted ads that could release malware onto your system if clicked. You can also install a virtual private network on all devices because that VPN will hide your location and automatically encrypt all incoming and outgoing messages.

Know How to Mitigate Breaches When They Occur

Since a data breach can be so detrimental to your small business, it’s important to be ready for anything, know how to prevent a breach, and mitigate the damage if one does occur. If you’ve hired an IT company, ask them the steps they’d take immediately after a breach is detected to secure your organization and limit the release of data.

If you’re doing it on your own, then know that the first step is to identify the source of the breach. Business owners who are not well-versed in this aspect should reach out to an expert who can scan your systems accordingly. Once the culprit is found, and it’s discovered to be an unsecured server or something that can be patched and fixed, then bring in third-party help for the appropriate resolution. After that, you’ll need to reach out to any customers who may have been affected and explain the situation so they can take their own precautionary measures.

Even if you cannot afford the big IT team and the fancy tools, you should still try to protect your company with cybersecurity insurance. A good policy will help to cover your business’s liability if a breach does occur. The insurance company can aid in the recovery of lost data and provide funds to repair your damaged systems, so you can get back up and running with minimal backlash.

You must make data protection and cybersecurity a main pillar of your organization and find the right tools to secure your particular business. Don’t leave anything to chance. If you do, you put your company’s future at great risk.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Katie Brenneman

Katie Brenneman is a passionate writer specializing in lifestyle, mental health, education, and fitness-related content. When she isn't writing, you can find her with her nose buried in a book or hiking with her dog, Charlie. To connect with Brenneman, you can follow her on Twitter.

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