How to Create a Cyber Safety Plan for Your Small Business

by mcardinal

By Center for Cyber Safety and Education


Small businesses are increasingly becoming targets of cybersecurity breaches because cybercriminals recognize that they’re less likely to have strong deterrent systems in place. Many small business owners think they’re insignificant compared to big brands and won’t likely end up on a cybercriminal’s radar. But it’s just this kind of thinking that puts their data, systems and hardware at risk from hackers looking for unprepared and unassuming victims.

Understanding the Top 3 Security Threats to Small Businesses

Understandably, small businesses won’t have the same budget for cybersecurity technology or personnel as large organizations. However, ongoing basic online safety education and best practices are the most crucial layers of an effective cyber safety plan when it comes to the top three security threats.

  1. Ransomware

According to research on cybersecurity threats, 63 percent of cyberattacks last year were financially motivated. Of the financially motivated assaults, 81 percent were ransomware attacks.

Ransomware can be described as malicious software that holds a computer or system hostage by encrypting its hard drive until an encryption key or ransom is paid. Most ransomware attacks are through email phishing campaigns, software vulnerabilities and remote desktop protocol vulnerabilities.

Experts predicted that a ransomware attack would occur every 11 seconds by 2021, making it one of the most prominent malware threats. Protect your small business from ransomware by not clicking on links in suspicious emails, not opening attachments from unknown sources and keeping your cybersecurity software up-to-date.

  1. Data Breach

A data breach occurs when a malicious actor steals sensitive information such as names, social security numbers, addresses or credit card details by exploiting cybersecurity vulnerabilities to gain unauthorized access to the system that contains this private information.

Exposing the data to the public or selling them on the black market can lead to long-term adverse effects on businesses like decreased customer trust and reduced profits.

Prevent data breaches by encrypting sensitive data, using strong passwords, training employees to spot cybersecurity threats and leveraging cybersecurity software.

  1. Phishing

The FBI reports that phishing incidents have doubled in frequency between 2019 and 2020, with 96 percent of phishing attacks delivered by email.

Phishing occurs when someone tricks you into revealing personal account information such as passwords, credit card numbers or social security numbers by sending you an email that appears to be from a legitimate company. Phishing is typically carried out through emails but can also happen over the phone and in person.

The best protection against phishing is training employees about the latest phishing scams. Everyone in your company should know how to identify phishing emails by looking for common identifiers such as misspelled domains, abnormal requests, suspicious hypertexts or unusual language for that sender.

Fortifying Your Defenses with Employee Cyber Safety Training

Cybersecurity measures are essential for any small business owner who wants their company to grow without fear of being hacked or compromised. You may feel your small business has a limited budget that can’t stretch to the best protection or an in-house IT security team.

Understand that one of the easiest and most affordable security plans is as low-cost as employee training: Studies have shown that employees pose the most significant risks in cybersecurity with their unrestrained browsing habits, weak passwords and carelessly clicking suspicious links.