Cyber Security Starts at the Bottom: Keeping Your Small Business Safe Online
It’s 2018, and that means, when it comes to cyber security, your company and you as an individual are more vulnerable than ever. Hackers are getting smarter and more sophisticated all the time, and the damage they can do to a company and its customers is astounding. You’ve probably just heard about the big-name company hacks, like Equifax and recently Uber. But small businesses are vulnerable too, and hackers learning to take advantage of AI and automation, they can target a lot of companies at once.
In fact, reports show that hackers have been slowly targeting small businesses more and more over recent years, with attacks on small businesses now making up about 50% of all cyber-attacks. This is because smaller companies don’t have the same investment in online security as larger companies do, so they’re easier to hack and often serve as entries to getting at data from larger companies as well.
The good news is that, because small businesses are, well, small, it can be relatively easy to secure your data once you put in the time and effort. Even if you have to overhaul your technology system and bring in new protocols, you don’t have a massive network to impose those changes on. But you can’t be sure that new technology is going to be enough to keep you safe from losing data and suffering huge setbacks from hackers in 2018.
“With both physical security and online security – whichever type of security – the system depends more on individuals than the protocols and instructions,” says Steven Adams, founder of Not Guilty Adams. “A single person can carelessly leave a door open for a stranger and compromise the whole system.” Getting the right technology and protocol in place to keep your business secure online is essential. But if all of that effort and investment is going to be worthwhile, you and your employees have got to sit down together and get on the same page.
Building a Culture of Security
In order for a new online security plan to work, security has to be a priority for everyone. If employees don’t understand or take the new regulations seriously, it won’t work. One big problem is that internet safety practices can be inconvenient and time-intensive for people who aren’t used to working with them.
Even with something as simple and self-explanatory as password management, it can be a pain. And if employees don’t understand the stakes or see security as a priority, they’ll find workarounds and convenient short-cuts that undermine the system, like meeting only the minimum security guidelines for passwords and re-using them whenever possible.
Therefore you need to bring your employees together, preferably repeatedly over a broad period of time, and show them that security is a priority. Let you and your staff be educated together about the threats posed to small businesses by hackers. Teach them ways to incorporate that online security into their own lives so they can really internalize this new priority. They need to understand the threat that you’re responding to. By taking this time with them and by visibly making an investment in security, you can also make a big impression and help them to bring security to your company from the bottom-up.
One way to make an investment that really shows how serious of a change you’re making is to buy new phones for the staff. By using all of the same devices in your company, you can be more careful in keeping your data secure. The fact that the devices are property of the company also lets you be more intentional and consistent in keeping them up-to-date with all of the latest security patches and anti-virus software.
Once you start to think of securing your company not as something you simply pay for and then impose but as a comprehensive process your whole staff has to go through together, it should be easy to make some quick, big strides in improving your security. It shouldn’t be hard to show your staff that the stakes are high, and that they could individually be affected too.
According to the National Cyber Security Alliance, 60 percent of small businesses hit by hacks aren’t around any longer six months after the hack. And especially now, as we get ready to go into tax season, individual employee data and tax information is at risk. If your company is secure, the employees are secure and their jobs are secure.