Small business owners have a lot of things to deal with on the best of days. The fact that they are handling so many aspects of operations and often with limited resources makes them vulnerable to nefarious actors. Increasingly, this is happening online. Cybercrime affecting small businesses comes in many forms.
Despite the fact that more than half of small and mid-sized businesses have reported at least one cyber attack in 2020, the vast of majority small businesses haven’t invested in cyber liability coverage and are not financially prepared to cope with the effects. Since entrepreneurs have a lot to lose in an increasingly risky business environment, small business security should be a greater priority.
Fortunately, one of the most effective ways to prevent the worst and improve resilience is to boost one’s knowledge of cyber security basics. From there, it’s easier to make smarter decisions and investments to guard against cybercrime.
How A Tiny Mistake Raises Security Risks
Cybercriminals are adept at testing systems for any and all weaknesses. These include major vulnerabilities resulting from high-risk and careless behavior, but they also result from a simple lack of awareness. If a small business owner or their employees aren’t aware of just what constitutes suspicious activity and where risks are most likely to occur, the circumstances are that much more favorable for scammers.
Clicking on just one link, downloading a seemingly harmless email attachment, or simply responding to a stranger’s text with valuable information are all tiny mistakes that can amount to huge losses. Criminals rely on a combination of socially predictable behavior and limited awareness to successfully breach their targets.
A business owner who’s caught up in busy operations, juggling multiple communication methods, and sending and receiving information on numerous fronts might easily miss malware that was disguised as an invoice PDF. It’s also common for cybercriminals to target small business employees by posing as employers or colleagues and requesting essential information, like passwords, PINs, and phone numbers.
Failing to recognize and defend against these common tactics—whether through lack of diligence or awareness—comes at a high cost. And even those business owners who are in-the-know can still fall victim to increasingly sophisticated attacks. When time, energy, and resources are stretched thin, that’s all the more reason to be proactive with business security investments. Knowing the available options and which ones to deploy is very empowering.
The Most Effective Types of Cyber Security
One of the most effective cyber security safeguards is fortunately among the least expensive. Simply educating oneself and all those who are privy to essential business information can thwart common criminal attempts. Basic familiarity with cyber security concepts as well as current tactics and ploys should not be overlooked or underestimated. Learning how to recognize suspicious communication, links, files, and other tools will shut down easy routes for criminals.
This is also accomplished by utilizing cybersecurity tools, including current antivirus protections, VPNs, and two-factor authentication. Software uses can leverage the security measures of app and system providers by simply keeping all programs and OSs updated. Performing regular backups of data—on both cloud-based and offline drives—will make file recovery possible in event of a malware or ransomware attack.
While it’s ideal to have an individual or service that’s dedicated to these and other cyber security measures, this can be a tall order for small organizations. Many small business owners understandably aim to self-manage their infrastructure. While not ideal, there are ways to enhance this approach. Performing a cybersecurity assessment to catch weaknesses ahead of criminals can help small business owners focus their resources.
Although prevention is always best, having a safety net when the worst happens can mean the difference between a setback and a shutdown. This is why cyber liability coverage is a smart addition to small business insurance. This goes beyond just ransomware insurance and covers damages that occur due to security failures, data breaches, and other malicious digital activity.