As recently as a generation ago, business security was very simple: a locked door, a burglar alarm, and maybe a gated storefront after hours. Security revolved around protecting what was inside from physical theft. These days, however, business security is much more complicated. While companies still need to protect their physical assets, they must also consider protecting the very lifeblood of their business: data. Fortunately, today’s business security is better thanks to technology.
Protecting Small Business Data
Cybersecurity seems like a big concept for small business, but small business is precisely where 43% of malicious cyber attacks occur. Many small businesses don’t take data security as seriously as they should, assuming that cybercriminals are only interested in enterprise-level businesses. It’s easy to see why, when large-scale data breaches make the news with regularity. However, the data available in small businesses is often seen as low-hanging fruit by attackers, usually due to weak or non-existent data security.
Malware, viruses, ransomware, data mining, phishing, and many other forms of cyber attacks are common in small business. These events expose important company and customer data and leave a business vulnerable to a host of problems. Small companies often don’t realize there has been a data breach, either. Studies show it takes 191 days for a company to realize their data has been compromised. What’s more, up to 60% of small businesses cease operations within six months of a cyber attack.
Those statistics should make a small business owner pause. Imagine all your hard work down the drain, simply because you didn’t take your data security as seriously as you should have. The good news is, you can help to protect your data assets with technology.
What Your Business Can Do
Small business doesn’t have to go it alone when it comes to data security. A wealth of technological options exist, along with guidance from IT service providers, that can help you to protect the information your business needs to operate. Here are seven technologies that can help make your business safer:
Email is usually a big part of business operations. Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) email solutions allow businesses to free themselves from hosting and maintaining their own equipment. Hosted email also typically comes with important benefits, including security, encryption, and business continuity.
Giving your employees free rein when it comes to accessing the Internet is a good way to invite all sorts of disruption into your business. A good web filter blocks access to sites that can compromise your network with malware.
Web filtering isn’t enough. Because of the ever-changing nature of malware, even reputable websites can host malicious code. Email, too, can be a source for damaging viruses. Reputation-based antivirus software seeks out malware based on continually updated definitions and quarantines the malicious code before it can infiltrate your network.
Patch and Configuration Management
Software isn’t perfect, and the bad guys are always looking for ways to exploit vulnerabilities in code. That’s why most software developers release updates to their products on a regular basis. Patch management helps you to keep up on these updates, which is critical to protecting your business data.
Web App Scanning
Most business websites use web applications to some extent. However useful these apps might be, though, there may be areas of vulnerability within them. Web application scanning identifies these weaknesses, many of which would allow a website to be hacked.
Full Disk Encryption
While a business may already be encrypting email or individual files, encryption of hardware – also known as whole disk or full disk encryption – helps to protect portable devices. Laptops, tablets, and mobile devices can be especially vulnerable due to their transportable nature. Encrypting these devices can help to assure only authorized users can access them.
Web App Firewalls
Firewalls for web applications help to protect business web traffic from common attacks. While web app scanning is helpful for identifying the ever-changing threats affecting applications, a firewall sifts through the content of individual web apps.
Taken together, these seven technologies can help your business to protect its data assets from multiple and common dangers. There is one vulnerability, though, that most businesses will be hard-pressed to combat.
The Biggest Variable
There are numerous ways cybercriminals can infiltrate your business, and there are just as many technologies to combat them. Be that as it may, the biggest and most uncontrollable factor in small business data security is human error.
Whether accidental or intentional, the stats on this issue are staggering. Up to 70% of cyber attacks on businesses involve employees who unwittingly compromise security. The average cost per year for such events tops out at more than $30,000 for small businesses. And yet, only 52% of small businesses have a cybersecurity strategy. It’s a recipe for disaster.
While you cannot control every move your employees make while they’re online during the business day, you can take steps to combat this ever-present threat:
Cybersecurity training for both established employees as well as new hires should be a regular part of your staff development. Educating employees about social engineering tactics, ransomware, and other forms of cybercrimes must be ongoing.
Using the same hardware, operating systems, equipment, applications, and policies for all employees and/or business locations can help tremendously in the event of a data breach. Additionally, such standardization will help you to monitor for common issues, respond rapidly to disasters, and apply patches and upgrades easily.
Business Continuity/Disaster Recovery Plan
Often abbreviated as BC/DR, these twin pillars of protection will give your business a clearly-defined plan for maintaining essential functions. Should any kind of disaster occur, BC/DR will help your company to recover quicker, possibly even keeping your business from closing down for good.
Partnering With an IT Service Provider
For many small businesses, staying on top of technology is a daunting task. While there may not be room in the operating budget to hire a full-time staffer to monitor all things tech, there are other options. Partnering with an IT Service Provider like Lieberman Technologies can help to take some of the burden off your staff. Our service offerings include network security, hosted email, and remote monitoring and management, among others. Contact us to learn more!