When data breaches make headlines, the victims are usually large companies. But there is increasing evidence that small businesses are at even greater risk for cyberattacks that put the business, its customers, and employees at risk:
- 62% of data breaches occur in small to mid-sized businesses
- Over the last four years, cybercriminals have increasingly targeted small businesses as “soft targets” for data theft
- Research shows most data breach incidents (88%) are caused by “insider negligence” — for example, failing to securely protect passwords
Despite these realities, many small business owners remain unprepared for a data breach. A 2016 U.S. study revealed that though more than half of small businesses had experienced a cyberattack, nearly 80% had no strategic response plan. While entrepreneurs may be concerned about costs of data protection on a tight budget, there are a few simple steps that every business owner can take to defend themselves:
1. Minimize the chance of a breach. Even the smallest company keeps data like company finances and employee information. Your data is only as safe as your weakest link. Be sure all employees are trained on basic “cyber security hygiene,” such as never leaving electronic devices unattended and logging out of accounts, especially on shared devices. Where possible, require two levels of authentication for access to sensitive information.
2. Take security precautions, particularly with passwords. If passwords or other critical business documents become compromised, it can jeopardize the security of the entire organization, as well as your customers. Employees should never be permitted to share passwords. Use a secure system to store passwords and never write them down on paper.
3. Consider security technology. It’s difficult to create high security environments for company data in a piecemeal fashion. Businesses of all sizes can benefit from incorporating security technology platforms and processes to help protect passwords and sensitive customer information.
Cyber security seems like a problem for large companies, but it’s a reality for Main Street businesses, as well. Don’t get overwhelmed — take some simple steps to protect your business.