A Quick Guide to Cyber Security for Small Businesses

The security threats faced by small businesses are mounting by the minute and burying your head in the sand is not an option if you run your own firm.

If you are a cyber-crime novice, this handy guide will give you a basic overview of all the risks you need to avoid and the solutions that can help you achieve this. Take a look at this quick cyber security guide:

What are the main cyber threats?

Small businesses need to address a number of vulnerabilities to avoid exploitation by malicious third parties, foremost amongst which is phishing.

This type of scam can take many forms, from doctored emails designed to trick unwitting employees to fake sites that are littered with damaging code. People are most likely to click through when a phishing campaign involves financial motivations, so it pays to make sure that staff are properly trained to avoid them.

Small businesses also need to familiarise themselves with other cyber threats, including identity theft, denial of service (DoS) attacks and viruses. It is not necessary to tackle all of these in-house, but it is a good idea to stay on top of the latest attack trends to avoid being caught out.

Is cyber security essential?

In a word, yes, because failing to enforce a suitably robust policy could put your small business on the precipice of some disastrous repercussions.

In the immediate aftermath of a breach, your reputation could take a hit and customers will find it hard to trust you in the future. While larger organisations might be able to weather this storm, the majority of small firms that are successfully attacked could end up folding.

As key clients jump ship, your business may struggle from a financial perspective, which lessens the likelihood of recovery even further. Then there are the legal ramifications to consider, not just from action taken by impacted customers, but also from the regulatory scrutiny.

GDPR compliance necessitates a healthy appreciation for cyber security issues, as well as a fresh approach to how customer data is collected and used. Transparency is essential and small businesses that fail to cut the mustard will be exposed to serious complications if they are hacked.

Who should be security-savvy?

In a small business, just as in a large one, there is a need for understanding and appreciation for cyber security at all levels. From chief execs to office administrators, there is no excuse for ignorance on central issues, especially in the wake of the GDPR rollout.

Proper planning and persistent training can make this easier to achieve, so the sooner you get started and the more holistic your strategy for cyber security can be, the better.

What elements of the IT infrastructure should be considered?

If your networking setup and in-house hardware resources have been gradually accumulated over time, then there is a high likelihood of fragmentation existing, which can create weak points which hackers will be able to exploit.

Simplification can combat this; eliminate any unnecessary elements of both hardware and software to minimise the chances of a vulnerability being exploited.

Deploying firewalls to stop outsiders accessing your networks and devices will put you on the right path, but this is just the start. Check wireless access points, keep apps up to date and ensure that you have every angle covered to get peace of mind.

How is data impacted in a cyber security context?

Data storage can be costly, complicated and difficult to protect, so consider outsourcing this element of your infrastructure to the cloud, or at least relying upon a third-party provider to back up important information.

Cloud-powered software apps can also be valuable, so long as they are adequately secure and resilient to attacks.

The data you collect from customers is now subject to the rules of the GDPR, so you need to know what kinds of information you are holding and whether it is out of harm’s way in its current state. Encryption can help, especially in terms of cloud storage, but the best data scrambling processes in the world will be useless if you do not also make sure that employees use secure passwords.

Training staff to use data safely, whether they are in the office or working remotely, is similarly significant. Internal threats to cyber security are amongst the most prominent that a small business will face, so stay alert, maintain vigilance and keep up with emerging threats from every avenue to provide complete protection.

Info via bbpmedia, 2018