Cybersecurity is no longer an issue any small and medium-sized business (SMB) can ignore. Cybercrime, data breaches and data leaks are more detrimental to the average small and medium-sized business than some natural disasters combined; flooding, fire, or transit strikes.
The most crucial realization as an SMB is that the impact of a data breach size can be far more fatal than for bigger businesses with a larger safety net. The smaller the company, the bigger the risk of becoming a cybercrime target and the size of the consequences are.
How to be Prepared for a Data Leak as an SMB
When it comes to cybersecurity, there are many best practices and tips on the internet. It can be a jungle to navigate the cybersecurity threat landscape and how technologies and systems integrate with that. However, a valuable approach is to consider data security holistically, as businesses will benefit the most from their efforts if they have software and action plans that are both proactive and reactive response features to an incident.
The Proactive Approach
Upping the cybersecurity measures in a company means considering a multitude of approaches to a potential breach and tackling them one at a time. Some tasks will be individual to the organization or industry, but some are universal and necessary for all SMBs.
The following are some useful proactive steps to take, in the efforts to avoid a breach:
- Use a firewall
- Educate employees on security threats
- Enforce safe password practices
- Keep data backups
- Regularly update and patch apps on your system
- Install antivirus on all devices
For a full cybersecurity checklist for small to medium-sized businesses, read the full blog post here.
The Reactive Approach: When Plan A Fails, How Prepared Are You?
Taking proactive steps against cybercrime does not cover the full spectrum of best practices for SMBs. No cybersecurity plan is bulletproof, and even if all precautions are taken, disaster could still strike.
Having a strategy readily available for immediate reaction if a hacker breaches the system is to have a backup plan. It is crucial to ensure business continuity and enable ongoing operations if disaster strikes. Scrambling for help and guidance, or not having clear communications ready will only magnify the cost of a breach, and could very well kill a business, even if there was no leak of data.
When Capital One experienced a breach on March 23rd, 2019, and 106 million records on American and Canadian citizens were accessed, it was not the leak that became the biggest issue for the company. Even though the accessed data was retrieved, and it was determined it had not been used for fraud, the aftermath became incredibly costly. It was reported that Capital One stood to lose $100 to $150 million in costs related to the breach, amongst other things, notifying affected customers and providing them with free credit monitoring, as well as defending against legal actions and upgrading the vulnerable technology. For a large company like Capital One, this might be an expense to overcome. Still, it underlines the costs of maintaining the business’s reputation after a cyberattack even when no leak has happened.
Smaller companies can hold many more client records comparable to their size, making an incident like this financial crippling. Learn more about the very expensive truth of IT downtime here.
To help you avoid these risks, there are a few types of disaster recovery plans to consider as an SMB.
- Response and Recovery Plan
A response and recovery plan gives any SMB owner the ability to provide a quick response to a breach and minimize some damage afterwards. It is a timesaving and stress-reducing tool that will also help to avoid missteps when acting in a crisis. The plan should become immediately actionable if a breach has happened and should contain a guide on determining how the breach occurred, and the next steps to take.
If you are subject to state or federal privacy legislation, it will also help to document all actions taken after the violation and on how to notify any involved parties appropriately. Last but not least, there should be a clear definition of a breach, and when to inform cyber liability insurance, leading us to the next disaster preparedness tip.
- Cyber Insurance
Buying a data breach and cyber liability insurance is just like insuring any other asset in an organization. Other valuable or expensive assets are habitually insured, so why not the company’s data? When the CEOs and CIOs of Target and Equifax were fired, it was not because a breach had happened, but because they failed to provide a fulfilling management response to the crisis following. It is wise to protect the company from inevitable lawsuits and the cost of the brand-cleanup aftermath in case a leak happens, and cyber insurance can help a business’s resilience to an emergency.
How to Use Cloud Data Storage and Outsourcing for Data Security
Cloud data storage and outsourcing can often be a more secure way for SMBs to store data than using internal resources. SMBs often do not have the needed funds for designated IT or cybersecurity teams in house, making the company either vulnerable to attacks or lowering employee effectiveness when the task becomes everyone’s issue. In the end, the primary reason for weak cybersecurity in small businesses is a lack of budget and resources.
There are several overall benefits of housing a company’s data elsewhere. A data center has easy scalability for the data a company chooses to store. Additionally, clients can enjoy hands-free security, including the accompanying experts in their field available at the center. Most importantly, employees can concentrate on business-critical objectives instead of dealing with tedious maintenance and security routines – a crucial benefit leaving more time for business development.
Moreover, data centers are better equipped to ensure business continuity in case of a data leak. They have the technical expertise and sophisticated IT services to reload old applications and replace cyber architecture, data, and network connections quickly in case it is shut down by a third-party. A data center has an extensive response and recovery plan in place that will get your company’s IT up and running real-time in no time.
Take the Next Steps Towards SMB Data Security
Data breaches have run at a record pace in 2019, and at a higher cost than ever. Even though large enterprise breaches typically catch the headlines, attacks on SMBs have been sharply on the rise over the last year. While larger companies might be padded enough to take a financial blow after an attack, SMBs are often much more vulnerable to the expensive aftermath and could very well end up having to shut the doors permanently.
While the best defense is to keep your customers’ data safe as well as having insurance and a backup plan, it is often the smarter solution for SMBs to outsource data hosting. You can save a lot of money and rest assured that your business is protected when you leave data safety up to more resourceful teams with the necessary experts. This is where Tigunia can help. We offer right-fit technology for every sized business and our talented team can help provide you with the technical clarity you need to protect your data and your business.
Learn more about how we can act as your partner in technology. Schedule a conversation with our team today!