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2 WAYS TO IMPROVE YOUR CYBERSECURITY NOW, NOT LATER
BATTEN DOWN THE HATCHES — OR FACE THE CONSEQUENCES
Cybersecurity is a notorious boogeyman for small-business owners. The problem is that many entrepreneurs either believe cyberattacks are not a direct threat to their livelihood or that they cannot afford to put robust network security in place. In a time when digital threats exist in unprecedented abundance, this kind of thinking couldn’t be more dangerous — or irresponsible. After all, underinvesting in IT doesn’t just put you at a disadvantage to your tech-savvy competitors; it calls the very future of your organization into question. When a Fortune 500 company gets hacked, they shell out millions of dollars and make headlines. But when an unprotected small business comes under serious fire by cybercriminals, it often collapses quickly without fanfare or much of a fight. This is why poor cybersecurity “represents an especially pernicious threat to smaller businesses,” SEC Commissioner Luis A. Aguilar said in 2015. “The reason is simple: small and midsize businesses are not just targets of cybercrime; they are its principal target.” With that in mind, it’s essential that you do everything you can to protect yourself and your employees from cyberattacks. Here are two things you can do today to strengthen your network security and prevent a crisis. It can be overwhelming to set a firm budget for any aspect of your business, but this is especially true of IT because many business owners aren’t sure what type of security their company needs or how much it will cost. According to CIO magazine, you should spend around 4–6 percent of your annual revenue on cybersecurity. If your current cybersecurity budget falls under this range, it’s time to re-evaluate. Will your current IT system protect your business should a cybercriminal target it? If the tech you use every day gets hacked for hours or even days, will your company survive? Most companies simply cannot afford that much downtime — much less the loss of precious data — due to a single employee’s misguided click. Even if you are already prepared to invest good money into cybersecurity, you must do your research to determine which IT companies are worth your dollars. If you can afford it, bring in an outside IT consulting firm, as they’ll give you the hard truth and let you know exactly where your weaknesses lie. This might be a tall order for your small business, but it could save your entire operation down the line. 1. Take a closer look at your cybersecurity budget (or set one).
2. Look for ways to educate your team (and hold them accountable).
According to IBM’s X-Force Threat Intelligence Index, more than two-thirds of cyberattacks occur due to “inadvertent insiders.” These are employees who unknowingly engage in actions that leave the network vulnerable, like clicking on a suspicious link in a phishing email or ignoring a key software patch. Cryptographer Bruce Schneier put it best when he said, “Only amateurs attack machines; professionals target people.” Because of this, the best way to boost your cybersecurity isn’t to pile money into a better antivirus or complicated network defense; it’s to get your people up to speed with cybercrime trends and educate them on best practices for avoiding threats. To this end, it’s a good idea to hold regular education sessions on cybersecurity. You might be able to easily recognize a phishing email; many of your team members may not. Again, it’s a good idea to bring in an outside company whose specialty is training teams on digital threats. Sometimes all it takes is a single session for everyone to understand just what they’re up against. Cybercrime is a bigger problem now than it has ever been, and it shows no signs of slowing down. But if you take responsibility for defending your network before it’s too late, you can bat away these threats and drastically reduce the danger to your operation. All it takes is a little time, a little savvy, and a willingness to invest in better IT.
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