Many small businesses don’t believe they have anything that cyber criminals might want to steal. Yet these companies are at as great a risk as others, if not greater. Cybersecurity professionals can help small companies take the necessary steps to protect their data and safeguard their customers’ valuable data.
Cybersecurity should be a key concern for all companies, no matter the size.
According to a study by Keeper Security and the Ponemon Institute, 50 percent of small businesses have been breached in the past 12 months.
These attacks can have devastating consequences for a business, including lost revenue, a decline in customer trust and the time and money needed to repair the damage and resume operations. Fortunately, there are many steps even small business can take to reduce the possibility of cyber crime.
Higher Risk for Small Businesses
Small businesses play an important role in the U.S. economy, creating most of the country’s new jobs. While small businesses store sensitive data that cyber criminals want – just like larger companies – they often don’t consider the very real cyber threats that can impact them.
In fact, because they have fewer resources and are less likely to easily bounce back from an attack, smaller companies are more at risk. The cybersecurity small business operations must consider is just as important as for larger companies.
Some smaller companies do understand the risk [link to: Know the Threat: The Hacker’s Toolkit article] and have safeguards in place, while others need to address this growing concern.
Avoiding Cyber Threats
Businesses that have not yet evaluated their risk should take some time to do so. Only after understanding possible threats can a company take action to avoid them. There are several actions to consider:
- Guard against viruses and other types of software that can enable cyber criminals to hack networks: This means regularly updating operating systems and software programs, and diligently installing new patches.
- Educate employees on cyber safety: Despite their best intentions, employees are one of the biggest threats to a company’s cybersecurity. They should be educated about their computer use, to whom they can reveal login information and what to do if they suspect a data breach or threat.
- Use care when storing sensitive customer data: Information should be protected with secure data storage methods throughout the information life cycle. Companies should keep up on the latest security technologies and techniques.
- Control access to networks: Businesses should ensure that the only people who have access to the network are those who really need it. They should also be aware of and control employees’ use of their own devices to access company files.
- Learn about social media cyber vandalism: Social media may seem like a friendlier part of the internet, but it has its own dangers. Cyber vandalism is a real threat that companies must be aware of and address.
For the best possible cybersecurity, small business teams need to develop a plan for the worst-case scenario: a data breach. Such a plan should include actions the company will need to take in the event of a breach, as well as additional resources (such as extra cybersecurity expertise) that may be needed.
Opportunities for Trained Professionals
Many businesses have cybersecurity professionals on staff, but others don’t or they may need additional support as they develop their cybersecurity plans or in the event of an attack.
This situation presents an opportunity for experienced cybersecurity professionals, especially those with master’s degrees.
These professionals are uniquely trained to understand the specific cybersecurity threats that small businesses may face and may be in a position to offer their own consultancy services and potentially open up their own small businesses to meet this need.
Getting the best education possible is the first step in serving this key business segment. Explore the different degree opportunities available to you and help protect businesses of all sizes across the United States.