Small to medium-sized businesses and large enterprises may seem worlds apart, but they deal with many of the same cyber-security threats. That’s because in recent years, cybercriminals are increasingly targeting small businesses because they’re easy marks. It’s no secret that small businesses have smaller budgets, less resources, and less access to expertise. So, it makes sense that cybercriminals would go after a handful of quick-access targets rather than a single big one with many layers of defenses to get through.
Thankfully, there are several things small businesses can do today to get more from even the most limited security budget. And, no, we aren’t talking about cutting corners. Far too often, companies cut the wrong corners and it ends up costing them more money in the long run. It’s a matter of taking a smarter approach to security.
5 SMART APPROACHES TO TAKE
Every business has specific areas or assets critical to its core operations. Poll your staff and management members to determine what these are. Here are some important questions to ask on a regular cadence:
- Is there certain data that would be catastrophic if it was lost or stolen?
- If hackers compromised a network, or prevented access to certain applications, how disruptive would it be to daily business operations? And why?
- What kind of potential threats or vulnerabilities pose the greatest risk to the company and to your customers/clients?
Focus on the most likely risks, not theoretical risks that “could happen.” Asking questions like these gives you a clearer and more complete perspective on where to focus available security resources.
2. DEVELOP AND ENFORCE POLICIES
Every small business needs to implement a security policy to instruct employees on appropriate and inappropriate workplace behaviors that impact the network, systems, and data security. But just drafting this document isn’t enough. A training plan must be put into action and employees must be held accountable if they fail to adhere to policy. Such policies should be updated regularly to reflect new technology and cultural shifts. For example, a document written before social media took off, or before the BYOD (Bring-Your-Own-Device) movement, probably doesn’t apply today.
Don’t’ forget that most security breaches happen because employees fail to recognize phishing schemes, open emails from unknown sources, create poor passwords that are seldom changed, and don’t take proper precautions when using public Wi-Fi connections on personal mobile devices also used for work. Ongoing end user training must be provided. The world of technological threats moves fast. Combine that with most worker’s focusing on their priority work activities over security and you have a spell for unsuccessful training. That’s why one-and-done is never the right approach. Security training should be conducted at least every few months.
4. TAKE TO THE CLOUD
Running applications and servers in-house is expensive and risky. Using virtual resources on the cloud allows small business to cut costs while also strengthening their security. Cloud operators typically have built-in security features, alleviating the extra labor of maintaining security. Today, not only can small business shift a lot of their IT burden to the cloud, but they can also outsource their security by taking advantage of the remote monitoring, maintenance, and security tools provided by Managed Service Providers (MSPs).
5. DON’T AIM FOR PERFECTION
There is no such thing as perfect security. Striving for perfection is expensive and can wind up being more costly in the end. Identifying the right areas, prioritizing them, and then improving protection and response over time can prevent big headaches and even bigger expenses. It can take a hacker several months to figure out your systems and do real damage. Being able to quickly detect them, and mitigate any potential damage they may cause, is a more realistic and less expensive approach than thinking you can completely remove any probability of a hacker breaching your system.
STRATEGICALLY OUTSOURCING CAN SAVE MONEY
The key word here is “strategically”. Consider what your company does well. Does it have anything to do with handling and monitoring your network, software, and security? If so, then it might be more beneficial to invest in developing the skills in-house. If not, then outsourcing is probably right for you.
With limited resources, small businesses literally can’t afford to waste time and labor trying to take on business objectives in areas where they have little aptitude. They should optimize the resources they have by focusing them on the areas that drive the company toward excellence—like product quality and innovation, customer service, and data quality. After all, that’s what playing to your strengths is all about.
If you’d like to discuss how we can free up more of your resources to focus on your strengths, contact us. We love talking security, but more importantly, we love talking about how we can help your company thrive.