How Small Businesses Can Prioritize Cyber Security
By Anna Johansson
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Small businesses face many pressures in today’s dynamic landscape. But when it comes to digital threats with lethal potential, few threats are more alarming and timely than cyber attacks. And with such rapid changes, merely keeping up with the pace of the security industry can feel like a full-time job.
4 Ways to Prioritize Cyber Security
As different as one business can be from another, the emphasis on cyber security is equally important across all industries, sectors, and business models. Whether you’re a B2C brick and mortar business, a B2B online company, or a hybrid of the two, your company can prioritize cyber security by implementing the following tips:
1. Invest in Proper Training
You can have the most sophisticated cyber security strategies in the world, but if you don’t have the right people executing, it’s all for naught. This is why employee training is so critically important.
People are assets and you must invest in them over and over again. You can’t expose them to one security training session and then expect them to be set for life. Training must happen early and often.
“The first time employees come through the door, start building the mindset as all new hires go through security training from day one,” security professional Wesley Simpson says. “That way they hear from the time they start that cyber is important, and that they are going to get continuous training.”
Good training consists of both academic instruction and hands-on practice. In fact, the former without the latter is virtually useless. It’s one thing to have a theoretical understanding of cyber security. It’s something else to have real world and/or simulated experience.
2. Practice Impeccable Password Hygiene
The preferred method of attack for many hackers is and always will be direct infiltration via compromised or stolen passwords. If you can get your employees to improve their password hygiene, you’ll stand a better chance of protecting your organization.
Two-factor authentication is a must. Combined with complex and frequently changing passwords, a multifactor approach can make things very difficult on hackers. Additionally, proper web security and limited access are key. (Employees should only be granted access on a needs basis. And if those needs change, credentials should be modified to reflect these developments.)
3. Secure Cyber Security Insurance
No matter how thorough you are, or how many different policies and solutions you implement, there’s always a risk that an attacker could come in and compromise your business via a damaging cyber attack. And it’s at these moments in time that cyber security insurance can provide significant protection.
Here’s what cyber insurance covers (in most cases): financial costs associated with a variety of cyber crimes, including notifiable data breaches, damage to infrastructure, business interruption, claims arising from infringement of privacy or intellectual property rights, response management, etc.
Cyber insurance policies can be pricey, but it’s important to analyze them through the lens of what a cyber attack can cost. Cyber attacks can easily come with six- or even seven-figure price tags. So for several thousand dollars per year, the up-front cost of cyber insurance is negligible. (It should be viewed as an investment.)
Cyber insurance shouldn’t be viewed as a safety net. Yes, it exists to catch you should you fall, but it’s not something to sit back and wait for. There’s still serious reputational damage that comes with a security compromise and you don’t want to expose yourself to these risks (insurance policy or otherwise).
4. Optimize Device-Level Security
The vast majority of organizations allow employees to use personal devices in the workplace. If your company falls into this majority, it’s imperative that you optimize for device-level security.
A robust BYOD policy that sets strict requirements and regulations on what employees can and can’t do on their devices when accessing work-related apps and data is a must. Take time to optimize this aspect of your policy moving forward.
Planning for the Future
Cyber threats are continually evolving. Hackers understand the sophisticated nature of the environments in which they work and the only way for your business to stay protected is to proactively enhance your cyber security strategy in the face of new challenges.
The time to plan for tomorrow is today. Make sure you’re implementing the right best practices and optimizing with the future in mind. There’s no such thing as a bulletproof cyber security strategy, but the closer you can get, the stronger your business will be.
Anna is a freelance writer, researcher, and business consultant. A columnist for Entrepreneur.com, TheNextWeb.com and more, Anna specializes in entrepreneurship, technology, and social media trends. Follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn.