Why Cyber Security is a Priority for Small and Start-up Businesses

Small businesses and start-ups have a variety of tasks and responsibilities on their plate while they build a successful business. While prioritizing, too many times the management will put cyber security on the back burner. It is easy to demote as a priority because on a day-to-day basis it seems unnecessary, as though your business can function entirely without it. That is until it is too late.

If your business gets hacked, which can cause a long series of internal errors and business-halting problems, it can cost thousands of dollars to fix. It may also mean your business is not functional for several working days, which can cost your business more than just dollars. It can cost you your reputation and your clients’ trust, one of the cornerstones of a successful small business.

It is an unfortunate reality that management for many small businesses is inattentive towards their cyber security, and this is a weakness that hackers are more than happy to take advantage of it.

Why Are Small and Start-Up Businesses Targeted?

First, When compared with worldwide, conglomerates and powerful corporations like Target and Walmart, it can seem ridiculous for a small business to even be on a hacker’s radar. However, in today’s modern world, a cash-driven economy is becoming a cashless economy, where an increasing amount of transactions occur entirely online. Hackers will follow where the money goes, no matter how big or small. If you work with online money in any capacity, you are at risk of being hacked.

Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, most start-ups have a lengthy database of client and customer information. Hackers highly desire These databases, and they can be a gateway to assist them in hacking your client’s credit cards, online profiles, and more. If you work with any larger companies, no matter how small you are, all of your vulnerabilities are also transferred to the big companies as well, putting your partnerships at risk. For example, in 2013, Target was infamously hacked, and thousands of data about credit cards are stolen. This did not occur due to a vulnerability in Target’s system, but rather a smaller third-party who worked with them. The hackers were able to use the small company as a “back-door”, or a secondary way to get into the system, and put malware into Target’s software.

In short, hacking is happening globally every second, and most large companies have the funds and resources to ensure they are fully protected. Thus, hackers will look for businesses who do not have those same resources, which is almost always the smaller companies who feel as though they have to put their priorities elsewhere.

In recent years, the vulnerabilities of any business are increasing ten-fold due to innovations in mobile technology and web applications. Mobile phones travel everywhere your employees go – and that usually includes leaving the office and logging on to unsecured servers. However, mobile access and web apps are an essential aspect of most start-ups, as they are affordable, efficient, and popular. As such, if security measures are not taken, this could be the weak link in your business that leads to it being hacked.

Most small businesses prefer to use cloud services to store their data and the multitude of other purposes it can supply. Cloud services are convenient and affordable, which is making them increasingly popular. However, their popularity has also attracted the attention of hackers, which makes it another cause for concern. While cloud services can and should must be used, care should be taken on how the services operate and how secure (or insecure) they will make your business.

Fortify Your Business

Without proper attention, the vulnerabilities of a small or start-up business may demolish a company’s profits and productivity. However, with a series of steps, this can be turned around, and you will be sure to protect your business from would-be hackers.

  1. Employee Regulations: First, set up the rules and regulations you have for your employees, regarding their computer and technology usage. This should be in written form and shared with the entire company. Ensure this document includes regulation on how to properly handle sensitive customer data.

  1. Employee Training: Show your employees the best way to conduct business online or on the servers. Training should include how to create secure passwords, what software can be downloaded and used, how to access company servers in a secure manner, and what to do about non-company apps (especially on the employee’s mobile phones).

  1. Install an SSL Certificate: Your web server should have an SSL Certificate installed to ensure the digital protection of any and all information that is passed online and between servers. This increases the cyber security of your communications with clients and partners.

  1. Restrict Employee Access: Share access to software, data, and more on a need-to-know basis for your employees. If you know exactly who has access, it is easier to control how it is managed and thus help it to remain secure. This should include controlling who can install and uninstall the software.

  1. Have & Use Data Back-ups: Don’t settle for just backing up your data. Be sure to test the process to make sure it is working, or the effort and cost may be wasted if it is not working.

  1. Stay Updated: Always make sure your firewalls and anti-virus protections are up-to-date, as these companies are constantly working against hackers and releasing the latest in security.

  1. Create an Incident Report: By tracking every incident, you can get a better idea of where your vulnerabilities lie, and in addition have a record of what employees have caused which problems (so you can improve training as needed).

The world of cyber security is changing and evolving at a rapid pace, and the smartest business owners are looking to stay a step ahead of the hackers to prevent the loss of profit and precious time. By following these steps, you can transform your vulnerabilities into a well-fortified business that your clients can trust.