As a small business owner, you probably don’t have much time to think about cybersecurity. You’re busy enough dealing with other aspects of your business, like sales and marketing. But while you may not have time to focus on cybersecurity, it’s important that you do so—for two reasons: one, because there’s a lot of money at stake if your data gets hacked. And two, because if you don’t protect yourself from cybercrime properly now then when will you?
That’s why we’ve compiled this quick guide to what every business owner needs to know about cybersecurity before they get hacked (or worse). It’ll give you all the necessary information to protect yourself from cybercrime without diving deep into encryption or cryptography.
What is Cybersecurity?
Cybersecurity is the protection of computer data and systems from unauthorized access and other forms of attack. It’s a growing concern for all organizations, especially small businesses, who don’t have the resources to hire a dedicated IT team or security specialist.
Cybersecurity protects against a variety of threats, including:
- malware: these are malicious software designed to disrupt computer systems or gain access to sensitive data;
- spam: unsolicited emails sent to distribute malware;
- phishing: fraudulent emails designed to trick users into providing valuable information such as passwords or credit card numbers. Hacking – the unauthorized penetration of computer systems or networks.
Why is Cybersecurity crucial today?
1. Data is the jewels of your business
Data is the lifeblood of your business. It’s what makes you unique, gives your customers a reason to come back, and makes investors want to throw money at you. Without it, none of the things that make up your business would be possible.
By now, we know that cybercriminals exist, but they aren’t the only ones who can cause harm to companies that don’t have good cybersecurity practices in place. Hackers aren’t always looking for personal information; sometimes, they’re simply after a financial gain by stealing credit card numbers or other information used to complete online purchases.
2. Unauthorized access to data can cost millions
If you think your computer or phone is safe from hackers, think again. Cybercrime is projected to cost the world $10.5 trillion annually by 2025 — more than the GDP of all but one country (the United States). And that’s just the cost of damage to businesses; consumers lose an additional $10 billion annually to cybercrime.
Data breaches cost organizations more than a quarter-billion dollars annually. They also often lead to lawsuits and fines from regulatory agencies like the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which can result in hundreds of millions more in penalties for companies who don’t take cybersecurity seriously enough.
Ransomware attacks have become increasingly popular among hackers—and profitable for them. In 2016 alone, cybercriminals made an estimated $1 billion by charging victims who wanted their data back after it had been encrypted by malware such as CryptoLocker or TeslaCrypt.
3. Cybercrime is on the rise, and it’s not going away anytime soon
Cybercrime is on the rise, and it’s not going away anytime soon. In fact, cybercrime is a growing threat to business, society, and humanity as we know it. Cybercriminals are becoming more sophisticated every year. They’re targeting everything from retail stores to online platforms like Facebook or Twitter — even our personal credit card information.
You’ll need to step up your cybersecurity game to protect your business from these malicious hackers. Whether it’s setting up firewalls or having an employee do monthly password checks to avoid phishing scams, there are many ways you can protect yourself against cyberattacks without breaking the bank or having too much extra work on your hands.
4. A hacker could get into your system without you ever knowing it
- the hacker could be anywhere in the world;
- the hacker could be an insider. A disgruntled employee, for example, who has access to your network or system;
- the hacker could be an ex-employee with access to your network or system;
- the hacker could gain access to your system through another source, such as social media or email (phishing) scams that trick users into clicking on malicious links that allow malware to enter their systems and spread throughout the company’s networks.
5. The more connected you are, the more vulnerable you are
This is because the more devices you have connected to your network, the more likely someone will try to breach it.
And in today’s world, we have so many devices to choose from! You might have a smart TV in your living room, a Fitbit on your wrist, and a smartwatch on your other arm. There’s also that thermostat by the front door and maybe even some lights around the house. Not to mention all of your computers, tablets, and smartphones.
Each of these devices has its connectivity options (i.e., Wi-Fi), which means each device is vulnerable if not properly secured against cyberattacks like malware infections or hacks into personal accounts.
Employees are your business’s first line of defense against cybercrime
Employees must be trained on things to look for and how to respond. Such training can help employees avoid becoming victims themselves, but it’s also important in less obvious ways. For example, if a company hires an IT expert who’s trained in cybersecurity techniques and she knows how to spot suspicious activity on the network, then this will improve the overall level of security—which benefits everyone at your company.
This type of education increases awareness about threats that may be lurking within your business environment, including ransomware attacks or phishing schemes designed to steal valuable data from employees’ computers or mobile devices.
Employees should also be familiar with the technology available for protecting their computers from malware by installing antivirus software on all employee-owned workstations (and educating them about proper use) and installing firewalls in all corporate environments (these prevent unauthorized access).
You can’t afford not to have cybersecurity protection in place
Cybersecurity is a necessary expense, like rent and electricity. It’s just another cost of doing business that every company needs to plan for.
If you don’t have adequate cybersecurity measures in place, your business risks losing money, time and reputation—and there’s no such thing as inexpensive insurance when it comes to data breaches!
It’s time to act. Now is the time to start if you’re not taking steps to protect your business from a data breach. You can do many things right away—from educating yourself and your employees to updating security protocols. You’ll also want to take an in-depth look at your existing policies and procedures for protecting customer information to prevent future breaches.