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How to Implement Cybersecurity into Your Small Business (SMB)

While owning a small business can be a rewarding experience, it certainly isn’t an easy path to take. The odds against the longevity of a small business are staggering:

  • 20 percent of small businesses fail in their first year,
  • 30 percent fail in their second year,
  • 50 percent, a full half of small business fail within five years, and
  • 70 percent fail within ten years.

Less than 30 percent of small businesses make it past ten years—long odds indeed.

The reasons small businesses failed are many, but some of the top ones include:

  • 42 percent fail because there is no real market for their product or service,
  • 29 percent ran out of cash, and
  • 23 percent because they didn’t have proper management.

Why Should I Care?

With all the challenges stacked up against a small business, who has time to worry about something like cybersecurity? Well, every small business owner better, because based on a report from Inc. Magazine, 60 percent of small businesses fold within six months of a cyberattack. Imagine that, survive all the long odds only to be undone by a hacker.

There are a wide variety of cyberattack scenarios that SMBs should be concerned with, some of the more common ones include:

  • Malware – Malicious software like spyware, ransomware, viruses, and worms.
  • Phishing – Fraudulent communications, usually via email, that appear to come from a known contact.
  • Man-in-the-Middle Attack – Eavesdropping attacks that occur when attackers insert themselves into a two-party transaction, so they can filter and steal data.
  • Denial-of-Service (DoS) Attack – Systems, servers, or networks are flooded with traffic to exhaust resources and bandwidth. As a result, the system is unable to fulfill legitimate requests.

The average cyberattack costs around $1.67 million, and top impacts can include:

  • Loss of Sales – Loss of immediate revenue as word of a breach spreads.
  • Damaged Brand and Reputation – The longer-term effects of customers’ lack of trust in the brand that hurts the business over in the future.
  • Compensation Costs – The expense of trying to coax customers back with deep discounts or compensation for losses.
  • Legal Action – You can expect to be sued, or in the case of significant breaches, be a party to class action suits.
  • Fines – The government can levy fines for a breach.
  • Government Audits – FTC and other governing bodies review your policies and procedures
  • Remediation Costs – Costs to determine the root cause of a breach, identify and repair the gaps in your security posture and infrastructure, as well as any associated hiring or firing.

Where to Get Started

A blend of people, processes, and tools can provide safeguards against the top five security threats facing businesses:

  1. Use an Email Security Gateway and security awareness training to help prevent phishing emails.
  2. Many malware attacks, such as trojans and viruses, can be prevented with strong technological defenses in place. Endpoint protection and web security solutions can help prevent employees from visiting malicious webpages or accidentally downloading malicious software.
  3. Ransomware attacks attempt to encrypt (lock you out of) your data and demand a ransom to receive a key code to de-encrypt the information on your systems. A robust practice of keeping up to date system images, data backed up to the cloud, and endpoint protection can help minimize any threat from this cyberattack.
  4. Ensuring the use of strong passwords, that are refreshed frequently is a simple, smart and cost-effective way to help protect against data breaches.
  5. Insiders include employees, former employees, vendors, and other associates. A 2017 Verizon report found that insider threats caused 25 percent of breaches. To mitigate the risk of insider threats, small businesses should ensure they have a strong culture of security awareness and limit data access to what an employee needs to do their job.

How to go the Extra Step

All of this sounds daunting, and some small businesses may wonder exactly what is malware protection?

Malware protection secures endpoints from things like ransomware, trojans, and viruses, protecting the device and giving a centralized dashboard to maintain visibility of everything on the network. If a system does get infected, the endpoint platform can lockdown that system to prevent the spread of the malware. Additionally, with cloud-based endpoint protection platforms, not only can you protect against the ever-evolving current threats, but a newly emerging class of “non-malware” attacks. The good news is that even though small businesses might have 99 problems, cybersecurity doesn’t have to be one of them. While there is no guarantee that a hacker won’t breach your data, developing a security overlay addressing your people, process, and tools will help you sleep better at night.

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