Every year we experience new challenges in the world of computer hacking —as well as new solutions. Cyber hackers have become aggressive, so business owners must be more vigilant. Because clients are the source of your revenue, it is critically important to ensure their data never gets into the wrong hands.
According to a recent survey conducted by the Better Business Bureau, more than half of small business owners reported they would no longer be profitable just one month following a data breach.
According to Bill Fanelli, the chief security officer for the Council of Better Business Bureaus and co-author of the report, a primary vulnerability for small businesses is the carelessness of its employees. In fact, Fanelli observed that one of the most cost-effective prevention tools — employee education — is used by less than half of the companies surveyed. All it takes is for just one employee to click on a nefarious link or open an infected attachment for a cyber attacker to walk through an open door to your business.
In many cases, business owners simply need to make employees aware of the types of behaviors that enable hackers to breach system security. To this end, the easiest prevention plan is to periodically conduct brief training sessions to reiterate the importance of:
- Choosing a strong password
- Changing the password often
- Installing software updates as soon as alerts are received
- Avoiding opening suspicious emails or online links
- Never downloading unauthorized software or apps on company computers or smartphones
Firms should conduct a full assessment to protect their business from data breaches at least once a year. Also, it is recommended that business owners ensure all transactions are secured through solutions such as:
- Automated Clearing House payments – an electronic network for financial transactions
- Secure Point of Service terminals – an electronic device used to process card payments
One way to help protect your financial transactions is to consult with a small business banker for a review of your current transaction management services to ensure you’re doing all you can to protect your business and your customers.
How to Develop a Cybersecurity Plan
Consider using this five-step approach to help prevent your firm from being vulnerable to a data breach:
- Devise a step-by-step written communication plan detailing how your firm will conduct ongoing monitoring and maintenance, and recover normal operations should a cyber attack occur;
- Identify at-risk assets, such as systems, data and financial operations;
- Protect each asset with tools such as IT security, off-site/cloud backup and vendor protection measures;
- Develop an automatic alert system to detect incidents that indicate current or imminent threats to system integrity and lost or compromised data; and
- Create a response plan that encompasses worst-case scenarios and contingency planning, staff training, written procedures, reporting and outreach communications to staff, vendors, customers and the public, if necessary.
Cybersecurity might not be your area of expertise, but your customers rely on you to keep their data safe. It’s important to take precautions to minimize your risk from this ever-growing danger.