Cyber attacks happen to everyone, big and small.
Anthem Healthcare, for instance, suffered a month-long attack in 2015, which allowed hackers to steal the private information of 80 million people. Small and midsize companies (SMBs) are routinely infiltrated as well.
It’s not alarmist to say that someone may be trying to break into your network even as you’re reading these words. So the following advice is critical to SMB leaders everywhere.
1. Review rigorously
As soon as possible, conduct a thorough review of your SMB’s digital infrastructure. For example, test the strength of your firewall. Also, make sure the information your team has uploaded is thoroughly encrypted.
If you’re looking for ideas as far as how to organize your review, the National Institute of Standards and Technology provides risk assessment documents that are easy to follow.
An extensive inspection will let you find outdated modes of cybersecurity. For example, some businesspeople employ two-factor authentication, believing it to be the safest system available. However, multifactor authentication represents an even safer alternative.
Once your review is finished, create a schedule for regularly updating your anti-spyware, anti-ransomware, email filters, operating system patches, antivirus programs and other safety tools.
2. Find knowledgeable employees, and make them more knowledgeable
Hire individuals with at least a basic understanding of cybersecurity. Furthermore, you could subsidize advanced cybersecurity classes for all of your new hires. As best practices evolve, take the time to explicate the latest strategies at your company-wide meetings.
You should also draft official cybersecurity policies for your business, and every worker should be required to read and understand them. These guidelines ought to explain each person’s role in protecting your company’s data and what someone should do if he or she suspects a breach has occurred.
The concept is similar to that of a neighborhood watch program. If everyone remains vigilant, serious security problems can be mitigated and often avoided.
3. Restrict access
Your employees should each have their own login, and they should be required come up with strong passwords that include letters, numbers and symbols. In addition, it makes sense to limit all of your staff members’ access to the company network. Everyone should be able to get into the programs they need and no others.
You could also ban your employees from conducting any business on their personal mobile devices. If they must use those gadgets on the job, at least have a member of your IT team install powerful security apps on them.
4. Prepare for the worst
Envision a nightmare scenario in which no one who works at your SMB can access your network due to an attack. All of your data is potentially exposed. From there, work out a detailed disaster plan that addresses who will report this crime, who will contact your vendors, suppliers and distributors, and how you will share the bad news with your customers.
This doomsday plan should also include the names of specialized attorneys you’ll turn to for representation and how your communications team can minimize the negative publicity that will follow.
Also, make sure you have adequate data backup. All of your data should be safely stored somewhere outside your network—perhaps in the cloud. You should be able to access that information at any time. That way, if you can’t access your network, your business activities can continue while IT professionals work on solutions.
5. Rely on third-party expertise
When it comes to assessing your current cybersecurity circumstances, developing plans, and the other steps listed above, it’s advantageous to get assistance from an outsourced consulting firm. You want people who can review your situation with a fresh, dispassionate set of eyes.
Pros who are equipped with the most up-to-date knowledge.
Such authorities also stay abreast of changes in the laws that govern corporate cybersecurity. As such, they can make sure you’re in compliance with all regulations at all times.
An outside security team will manage your network from, well, the outside. Therefore, they may be able to detect possible threats more clearly than your internal IT professionals, all of whom are facing the same dangers as the rest of your staff. And, as time goes on, that outsourced group can provide you with all necessary fixes and patches, lessening your team’s workload and stress levels.
Cybersecurity can be a scary topic when you reflect on the myriad and evolving hazards your SMB faces. But, in collaboration with a reputable consulting firm, you can face the future free of fear . . . and free to focus on your growth and prosperity.