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If you were to ask five random strangers from different walks of life what the main threats to the future of small businesses are, you’re likely to get similar answers. Possible responses will likely include rising inflation and a possible recession, job market volatility, the pace of technological progress, supply chain issues and more.
The real question is, which fraud risk is often relegated to the back burner to be passed in the next operating budget? When revenues are on track, inventory is viable, growth is stable and scale-up begins to take shape, what issues are left to address?
Related: Cybersecurity is no longer an option. Your money is in immediate danger.
Ignoring warnings is the easy — and short-sighted — path for SMBs
Ignoring the seriousness of cyber threats is a dangerous gamble. The risk is unacceptable:
- 61% of small businesses will face a cyber attack in 2021
- Small businesses account for 43% of all data breaches
- More than half of small businesses that fall victim to a cyber attack close within six months
Acknowledging the harsh reality most individuals choose to ignore is an important stepping-off point. A proper understanding of the situation results in knowing what protective measures should be taken. Building and implementing cybersecurity measures should be a high priority for businesses of all sizes, especially SMBs, where the margins for error are razor-sharp.
The pressure to allocate resources effectively reduces cybersecurity efforts
As nerve-wracking, terrifying, and potentially devastating as starting and running a small business – yet there are few efforts 100% worth it. I have experienced the passion that drives people dedicated to watching it. I have sensed the fuel within team members who are fully committed to taking an idea and nurturing it into a viable, self-sustaining entity.
It’s no secret that the odds are stacked against us. Numbers don’t lie. It is widely reported that, on average, 8 out of 10 small businesses fail within the first year. Within five years the odds become even more dire, with nearly half of all new small businesses closing up shop.
Given the obvious confidence and enthusiasm of the founders, why do most small businesses neglect or neglect cybersecurity altogether? Why is there an endless possibility of most-truly disaster around every corner? It is a matter of resources and lack of informed vision.
Related: 5 Ways to Protect Your Company from Cyber Attacks
SMB leadership must elevate cybersecurity
Addressing cyber security is an essential task as a small business sees greater complexity and effort over time. There are basic steps that need to be taken, which are reinforced with enhanced security measures. Given the unacceptable risks lurking, the stronger the security features of a business, the better.
Here are some important takeaways from the commute:
- Internet and firewall security software. It is important to have both antivirus and firewall software running, as they address different issues. Firewalls prevent outside access to any data on private networks; Integrating reliable security software, operating systems and web browsers is an essential weapon for network-connected use of that data.
- Data backup. If there is a cyber attack involving hijacking or corrupting company data, a quality, reliable backup will be a lifesaver. Data backups should be updated regularly to ensure immediate usability.
- Secure Wi-Fi. A simple, straightforward measure, a secure Wi-Fi setup is a powerful piece of the security puzzle. It may be necessary to go above and beyond the basic protection offered by your provider.
- Controlled access and authorization. The most effective way to avoid potential crises is to implement controlled access to data and limit user authorization. This action helps ensure that employees do not inadvertently install or operate compromised programs, undermine cybersecurity settings or access data and information that falls outside the scope of their responsibilities.
Awareness, education and formal policies are essential for cyber security protection
One of the most important steps a business can take is employee cybersecurity education. Without a thorough awareness and understanding of cybercriminals’ myriad attack methods, employees are the weak link that will inevitably be compromised. Basic instruction on threat severity and critical threat avoidance will go a long way in strengthening the strength of proactive cyber security defenses.
Equipping your company with established cybersecurity policies and action plans reinforces the basic steps outlined above; These steps create a defensive mindset and the preparedness necessary to combat tailored cybercriminal attacks. The specific plans created will vary depending on the size and structure of a business but may include the following:
- Internal incident response plan
- Mobile Device Action Plan
- Crisis Response/Customer Engagement Plan
Related: 5 Leadership Strategies to Improve Team Performance and Grow Your Small Business
Securing survival and success as an SMB in a challenging economic landscape
Every small business is unique. Every owner, every leadership team and every staff member — everyone has their own story. It is difficult to say whether they will all be told.
When navigating the endless parade of worries, threats, and pressing demands on dwindling time resources, the energy and effort required can seem overwhelming. Adding cybersecurity measures to the to-do list to deal with another day may seem sensible at the moment, but reality paints a different picture.
When running a small business, there are appropriate levels of time and resources to invest in any given issue. Finding the right level for their business will be a call to get them right.