Cybersecurity is a back-burner thought for many small and medium-sized businesses, especially for those with limited resources. However, for the 71% of small businesses that have websites, it is important to prevent the worst from happening – before it’s too late.
The Dark Side of the World Wide Web
While the internet allows small business owners, like yourself, to expand their reach and sell to more customers, cyber disasters have proven to end many small business opportunities for growth and expansion. In fact, industry research shows that 43% of cyberattacks target small business and 60% of small companies go out of business within six months of an attack.
Further, recent studies indicate that cyberattacks are more prevalent than ever:
- Hackers breached 50% of all U.S. small businesses in 2016 (State of SMB Cybersecurity Report)
- Data breaches have increased 44% since last year (Identity Theft Resource Center)
- Of all existing websites, 42% are currently vulnerable to cyberattacks (Menlo Security, 2018)
- 90% of IT service providers have reported recent ransomware attacks on small businesses (Dynamic Business Technologies)
If these stats are not convincing enough, consider why hackers are a threat to your company:
- Small businesses have the same valuable information as larger companies, resulting in ransom requests from hackers looking to take advantage of your company’s continuity.
- Attacks on small and medium-sized businesses can be used to gain access to large enterprises, especially if you’re a service provider for them.
- The lack of IT infrastructure causes small businesses to appear as a more vulnerable, low hanging target for eager hackers looking to make a quick profit.
Essential Prevention Best Practices
Rather than react to a detrimental – and likely very costly damage-control situation, as a business owner, you must take a proactive approach to prevent cyber threats. Whether you’re just getting started or want to ensure your current disaster prevention plan is foolproof, here are five ways to prevent digital disasters from damaging your online business presence:
- Establish an incident response plan. This is a plan documented and communicated to manage and limit damage to a business and reduce recovery time and cost after a security breach or cyberattack.
- Regularly update passwords and anti-virus software. Create strong passwords and avoid the use of personal data that could make them easy to figure out. Opt for random combinations of letters, numbers and symbols with no connection to private information and update them frequently. Likewise, be sure to update your anti-virus software to guard against the latest threats and secure the network infrastructure.
- Set up automated website backups. A cloud-based automated backup solution tracks all changes made to a website and provides a flexible backup history for short- to long-term storage. Should the website be compromised, regularly updated backups will help get things running again with minor losses.
- Implement regular CMS updates. As soon as updates are available, install and patch security gaps in the Content Management System and third-party plugins.
- Invest in cyber security insurance. Sometimes referred to as cyber liability or data-breach liability insurance, it is standalone coverage to help companies recover from data loss due to a security breach or other cyber event.
Government agencies are also focused on helping small businesses to protect themselves from cyberattacks. During this year’s National Small Business Week, the Small Business Administration has partnered with SCORE to provide a virtual conference that will include a cybersecurity session. No matter the stage of growth your business has reached, employing best practices and complementary resources that provide automated website backups, anti-virus management, and other safeguards are worth taking advantage of – especially with your company’s reputation and revenue on the line.