Attitude is CriticalThis is where many small businesses get themselves into trouble. It's also one of the major reasons why security breaches happen at small businesses. From startups to companies with fewer than a dozen employees (or businesses that run local brick and mortar stores), there is a common mindset of not being a data breach target from outside hackers.
If a hacker is able to go after a large enterprise such as Home Depot or Target, why would it go after a small business that makes fewer than a thousand sales a month? That is the very reason why hackers target smaller businesses. As there is a mindset of not needing the latest or best security features these companies are susceptible to often basic security attacks. This makes it easier to siphon off financial data from hundreds of customers, often without the business ever knowing what happened.
The fact is more small businesses are hit than large businesses. While the occasional data breach does occur at large corporations, these often occur due to internal errors by employees (such as opening virus plagued emails that invite external malware into the network to then send out data bit by bit and avoid attention from the complex security measures put in place by the business).
You and your business need to adjust your attitude towards cyber security. Your company can, and very well will be a target of hackers and data thieves. It's up to you to put up the necessary defenses.
Upgrade Your Cyber Security ResourcesIt's important to put not only more thought into cybersecurity protection but also the resources your cybersecurity department has access to at the time. You may not want to invest the additional money into such measures. After all, this is money you'll likely need to allocate from another department. However, it's important to consider what would happen if a data breach did occur and hackers made off with all your customer's data? First, you need to let your customers know such a data hack occurred so they can take the necessary precautionary measures.
It also increases the chance of customers not returning to your business, which represents a substantially larger loss of income than any money you might put into the department. This doesn't even include the poor local press you're left dealing with, which can harm your online profile as top performing links of your products are replaced by links to news articles about data breaches and the loss of customer information.
Data security is critical to the sustainability of your business. Failure to invest in the department is a failure to invest in the company's future. Due to this, you need to get serious about security measures and do what you can to invest back into the security department, which may include hiring a data security professional to head the department.
Where Is Your Company VulnerableThis is where bringing on a data security IT professional is beneficial. At the very least, you need to bring in a security consultant to analyze your network and to identify where the company is vulnerable to external threats.
During this process, the IT professional/security consultant will look over the physical security procedures of the business and if there are multifactor authentication issues. For example, when logging onto your bank's online portal, you often need to provide multiple levels of authentication (this might be a username, a passcode, and sending in a code you receive via text message). The data security consultant can determine if any of this is necessary to boost company security.
Work With Other Companies To Boost SecurityOne of the best ways to protect your business is to share security data wither others in the industry. If you have been the target of a potential security breach, you can share this information with other companies. These businesses may then implement new security protocols to prevent the threats from striking their businesses. This works in reverse as well. Should another company experience an external hack attempt (both successful or failed), by sharing the information your business will learn how to protect itself from similar attacks. Your IT cybersecurity department can then take the information and incorporate it into new security measures.
Limit the DamageNo matter how great your cybersecurity department is, you can't prevent all security breaches. That's why everything from departments in the federal government to credit bureaus has experienced security breaches. While hopefully, you'll never have to deal with such a situation you need to be prepared in the event a security breach does happen. Have protocols in place to limit possible consequences. This works as an internal firewall that blocks off most data access, outside of a few at the admin level. This way, you can bottleneck the data flow and make the necessary corrections before it becomes even more damaging.
Know How You'll Notify CustomersIn the event of a data breach, you need to know how to respond to customers, shareholders, and employees. You should never panic. However, you do need an established plan for assessing the security breach, creating an incident response, and communicating the issue with all parties.
There are times where you will need to communicate the security breach to all parties connected with your business and other times where only certain parties need to know. When notifying customers is necessary you need to offer assistance in identity protection. While not necessary, this helps save face and reduces the chance of the customer leaving your business.
At ICS we fully understand the importance of cybersecurity, regardless of the size of your business. The better prepared you are to defend your company and take action in the event of a breach, the better off your company will be. This will go a long way in protecting both your business and your customer's personal data.
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