As a small business owner, it can feel like you’re constantly adding new things to your to-do list, and there isn’t enough time in the world to get it all done. While it can be tempting to drop cybersecurity to the bottom of that list, it’s important to make sure your systems (and your team) are secure. We’re not here to tell you to become an IT expert overnight, but with these tips and tricks you’ll be on track to a more secure system in no time.
Create a Plan of Attack
If you’ve never considered your organization’s cybersecurity before, it can be overwhelming to start from scratch. Every email, website credential, or piece of customer data feels like a cyberattack waiting to happen, and this is when many business owners go into fight or flight – and abandon the idea of cybersecurity all together.
While it is true that there are many opportunities for outside agents to sneak into your network and wreak havoc on your system, there are just as many opportunities for you to make small changes to your organization that can have a big impact on your overall security. Creating your plan of attack is all about identifying as many areas of improvement as you can, and then taking steps towards a more secure system each and every day.
Think about places in your organization where you could have security vulnerabilities. This can include:
- Collecting & storing customer information
- Endpoint protection (laptops, mobile devices, etc.)
- Payment protocols
- Weak passwords, password sharing, no 2FA
This isn’t an exhaustive list, but it’s a great starting point if you’ve never thought about security before.
Take a look at the above list and ask yourself:
- Do we have a security policy for this team?
- Do my teammates and I know and understand the policy?
- Even though we have a policy, do we have measures in place to follow through and enforce it?
Create your plan by answering the following questions:
- Which items on this list are the least secure?
- What steps can I take to improve each item? Do I need to create a policy? Improve the current policy? Educate my team on the policy?
- What items will make the most impact?
- What items will take the least effort?
Now, mark time on your calendar to implement the changes you listed above. Whether it’s as simple as sending out an email to remind your team of a policy, or reaching out to a cybersecurity provider to help develop and implement a new policy, laying out your plan of attack is the first step to improving your overall cybersecurity and reducing risk in your organization.
Get Your Team Involved
An estimated 97% of all cyber threats have a social engineering component, which means that your team is your first line of defense against an attack from an outside agent. Ensuring that your team understands the role they play in your organization’s cybersecurity is the first and most impactful step to strengthening it.
Help your team spot phishing emails – they look like legitimate emails but allow outside agents to gain access to your organization and its data. These emails appear to come from a trusted source, but contain links to fake websites that store login credentials and other sensitive information. Learn how to spot phishing emails.
Poor Password Hygiene
Encourage your employees to use a password manager. Long gone are the days where “password” was an acceptable password. Brute force attacks are more sophisticated now than ever before, and can crack the average password in a matter of minutes. Learn more about brute force attacks and password hygiene.
Other Risky Behaviors
Even when your team improves their password strength and steers clear of phishing emails, they can still engage in risky behaviors that introduce extreme levels of vulnerability into your organization’s cyber network. Behaviors such as browsing dangerous websites, downloading unsafe files, and failing to update and patch systems and software can all introduce high levels of risk and vulnerability to your network. The best way to stop these activities and dramatically reduce your risk is by educating yourself and your team about the risks of engaging in these behaviors.
Taking a business from 0 to secure by yourself isn’t going to happen overnight. Create your plan of attack, educate your team, and then continue to do the work to patch vulnerabilities, implement policies that support cybersecurity efforts, and stay on top of your network security. We encourage all business owners with an online component to consult with a professional to ensure that their system is up to date and protected, but we recognize that this may not be an option for you due to budget, time, or other constraints. Put your head down, stick to your plan, and keep trying, because as far as we are concerned the only way to truly fail at cybersecurity is to give up on maintaining your network security entirely.
Don’t let the overwhelm of improving your security stop you from taking action. Sign up for our challenge: 5 Days to Better Small Business Security today and be on your way to a more secure organization by the end of the week.