Most small businesses think themselves beneath notice in the larger corporate world. After all, without the need for IT systems or significant infrastructure, there is less to manage and fewer vulnerabilities to address. Anything related to technology is often an afterthought for small businesses, and many make the mistake of believing that cyber threats are not a potential issue.
The unfortunate reality is that cybercriminals are more than willing to prey on small- to mid-sized businesses, even with bigger targets available. Widespread adoption of technology has made just about every enterprise a potential target. Given the lack of focus on technological infrastructure and fewer resources to dedicate to systems monitoring or recovery after a breach, these organizations are especially vulnerable. And every company has data worth stealing, to sell or use as leverage. The loss of any sensitive information can cost a company in both reputation and capital.
For small businesses, a bit of investment in cybersecurity can keep records safe and ensure that larger losses don’t happen down the line. There’s no need for a dedicated IT team to take necessary precautions when it comes to adopting new technology or infrastructure. The first step is acknowledging that, while small businesses are vulnerable, they are not without options for their own protection.
Many cybersecurity breaches are the result of internal error—I can’t emphasize this enough. As a result, controlling for human mistakes such as weak passwords, clicking on risky emails, and using mobile devices on unsecured networks can go a long way. Many do not realize how many points of vulnerability exist. Small businesses should ensure that the tools in place are easy to use for employees that may not be familiar with these matters.
Mobile devices are such a massive point of vulnerability that it’s worth dedicating time to examine all of the ways that they can go wrong. Between the difficulty inherent in managing them, the risk of public wifi, and employees bringing devices from home, small businesses will have to account for every possible attack surface. Consistent regulation is necessary to ensure that personal and business devices stay safe no matter where they go.
For that matter, small businesses should consider regulating access to certain systems and technology. Though they may not have an IT department or dedicated standards for who can access what, these organizations should consider which systems each employee has a consistent need for. If an employee doesn’t require a system to get their work done, they should not have access.
Planning for a cyberattack should also account for the worst-case scenario of a breach occurring and ease the recovery process. Making backups of everything digital is the best and easiest way that a small business can protect themselves in the event of a breach and allow for the least downtime when something goes wrong. The investment to create on- and off-site backups is minimal, but the safety it provides is huge.
This is only a small sample of the tactics that small businesses can consider when investing in cybersecurity. VPNs, software audits, and proven antivirus software can also provide an additional line of defense. However, any small business should recognize that precautions do not guarantee safety, and may want to consider investing in the services of a third-party cybersecurity firm to assess risk levels and provide scalable solutions. Technology will become even more involved in business, and safe adoption is important for businesses of all sizes.