Picture this: You’ve worked tirelessly to establish your small business, pouring in sweat and tears for years. Your client base is growing exponentially, and your revenue is steadily increasing. But it only takes one cyber-attack to bring it all crashing down. Small businesses often overlook cybersecurity threats because of their size or budget constraints. However, these same businesses are frequently the prime targets of hackers as they have weaker cybersecurity defense systems. This makes them more prone to cyber-attacks than larger corporations.
As per the National Small Business Association’s 2018 Annual Report: 47% of U.S small businesses experienced a cyber-attack over the past year alone – an increase from previous years’ results. The growing number of attacks makes employing necessary network security measures critical for every small business owner. This brings us back to our focus today – creating an efficient and foolproof cybersecurity checklist for small business owners like you!
Why Small Businesses Need a Cybersecurity Plan
Small and sometimes medium business owners may think that cyber-attacks will never happen to them, but the truth is that the damage can be devastating once they do. It could lead to lost revenue and productivity, harm your company’s reputation, and even cause you to lose critical business data.
- Cybersecurity Risks for Small Businesses
Small organizations are increasingly becoming targets of ransomware attacks. That’s due to their insufficient security measures compared with larger companies. Lack of security protocols and outdated software systems make them easier targets.
Here’s how an SME (Small and Medium Enterprise) is at risk:
– Email phishing scams
– Malware, like ransomware
– Unauthorized access by rogue employees
– Lack of MFA
- Consequences of Cyber Attacks on Small Businesses
Cyber-attacks affect not only finances but also reputation. This causes customers to lose trust in doing business with them again. Hackers can steal sensitive information, including financial records and personal data. That may result in potential violations of regulations and legal penalties that could amount to losses up to six figures! Furthermore, such incidents can cause unexpected troubles for business operations, threatening job security and limiting short- and long-term productivity. We have seen hackers get into key business email accounts and gain access to all the contacts for the past 20 years. That’s a lot of information to get stolen.
Small Business Cybersecurity Checklist
As a small business owner, you wear many hats and may handle everything from billing clients to making marketing decisions. The last thing you need on your plate is cybersecurity worries. But with cyber threats becoming more frequent and sophisticated, it’s essential to focus on ways to protect your business.
Let’s explore this list of best practices for cybersecurity measures:
1. Assess Your Security Risks
Take the first step by assessing the potential security risks your business faces. Begin by identifying valuable assets that might attract cyber criminals – such as the company’s financial and customer information and intellectual property – so you can facilitate their protection. Check current security measures and ensure they are on par with industry standards – physical access control, antivirus software, or firewalls. Make sure you use MFA where you can, most notably in your email system. Have a vulnerability management system to find weaknesses in your systems and network before the bad guys find these weaknesses.
You must check on third-party vendors whom you do not have much insight into – ensuring all hired services meet satisfactory legal requirements. Identify vulnerabilities within a system’s network to bolster mitigation planning efforts. This will allow you ample time to respond to potential attacks in the event of a security breach.
2. Implement Strong Security Measures
A reliable antivirus program helps identify malicious activity. In contrast, a firewall can prevent unauthorized access to your business network or devices. Using multi-factor authentication with strong passwords adds another layer of protection against data breaches – Choose unique login credentials for every account! Make sure only authorized personnel have the necessary permission. This will prevent cases such as – internal sabotage or thefts done by hackers, who sneak through by abusing weak configuration settings.
In any small business, it’s critical that the employees are well-trained on cybersecurity issues. The knowledge will significantly aid the company’s security. Also, remember that software upgrades are key. Out-of-date software leaves your network open and vulnerable to harmful activities that can cost you a lot! We recommended doing operating system patches and 3rd party software updates regularly.
3. Develop an Incident Response Plan
We have a new employee onboarding procedure and an offboarding procedure. We recommend having an Incident response procedure. It’s a bad idea to wait for a cyberattack and afterward dev the SOP. We recommend Implementing an incident response plan beforehand. Establishing an incident response team is the first step to being proactive if something occurs. Assign specific roles and responsibilities, including cybersecurity experts and IT personnel proficient in handling security breaches. Develop a plan that includes containment measures, mitigation strategies, recovery protocols, communication channels with stakeholders (employees/customers/investors), and reporting guidelines to authorities/regulators.
Apart from creating the IRP document itself, regular testing of the plan across different scenarios can help assess its effectiveness and identify gaps, if there are any. Revised planning can follow based on feedback from internal auditors or third-party professionals who conducted the testing.
4. Backup Your Data Regularly
Storing backup copies of sensitive data greatly reduces the risk of data breaches. Keep backup data in secured locations away from direct internet exposure. As information adds or changes constantly, testing backups at regular frequencies will help update them efficiently. Have many ways to restore your data. We recommend three different ways to restore your data using three different methods of backup.
Additional Tips for Small Business Cybersecurity
We hope you understand the importance of cybersecurity and implement parts of the checklist above. Now, here are some added tips for some extra help:
- Secure mobile devices and remote workers
Mobile phones/devices have become an integral part of our lives. They contain sensitive information like login credentials, bank details, or corporate documents. Hackers find these to be attractive prey. Ensure that all the company’s mobile devices have password protection in place; that way, only authorized users can access data if their device gets stolen or lost. Make sure to use Encryption on these devices so that if it gets lost in an Uber, for example, they will not be able to access the hard drive and gain access to sensitive data.
Moreover, implementing security policies like multi-factor authentication adds an extra layer of shielding against potential breaches, as we have already learned! Ensure remote employees use VPN (Virtual Private Network) software when accessing company resources remotely, guaranteeing secure connectivity and reliability.
- Monitor your network for unusual activity.
Hackers don’t tend to exploit vulnerabilities immediately. They would rather take their time looking around undetected. They try to choose the right moment while stealing valuable data without being caught.
Network monitoring allows tracking each employee’s connection and checking suspicious traffic patterns in real-time, detecting attacks before severe damage occurs. Using Siems, Honeypots, and Vulnerability management solutions all combined is a good start toward a good defense.
- Implement secure remote access.
Cyber attackers try every method possible to gain entry into restricted systems. Their tactics may include brute-force attacks aimed at guessing weak passwords. With ‘Remote Access Trojans’ lurking around, safety measures should always be taken seriously. Make sure that passwords meet the requirements for specific complexity configurations. Also no remote access without MFA.
- Stay informed about cybersecurity threats.
Cybercriminals frequently adjust strategies, switching tactics as soon as one fails. Keeping constant vigilance, therefore, is fundamental even for regular tasks. Look for emails containing malicious links – conduct training sessions periodically – help staff stay aware; update relevant firewalls continuously.
How can Crown Computers Help?
Owning a small or medium business in San Diego can be challenging, especially when it comes to keeping your cybersecurity measures up to date. But with Crown Computers, you don’t have to worry! Our team of experts can evaluate your current cybersecurity systems and suggest ways for improvement. That way, you can have peace of mind knowing that your business is safe from cyber threats.
We offer various solutions, including system updates, strong-password implementation, firewall installation and maintenance, antivirus software recommendations, and customized backup and disaster recovery plans. If something unexpected happens, our 24/7 support team will always be on hand to quickly identify and fix any issues. We’ll do all this while minimizing downtime for your business operations! If you want to know more about Cybersecurity vs Network Security Check here.
Don’t let loopholes leave your valuable information vulnerable to hackers in San Diego or anywhere else! Trust us for all your IT needs so you can focus on growing your business!
Cyberattacks are becoming more prevalent, and your company is not immune! Don’t let hackers take down your business – you must prioritize cybersecurity now! Our ultimate security checklist can help you assess risks, install strong security measures, develop an incident response plan, and backup data regularly. Secure mobile devices and remote workers with encryption, multi-factor authentication, and VPN software. Take these precautions seriously because they can prevent financial losses, protect your reputation, and maintain customer trust!