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If you were to ask five random strangers from different walks of life what the biggest threats to the future of small businesses are, you’d likely get similar answers. Potential answers would likely include rising inflation and a possible recession, labor market volatility, the speed of technological advancement, supply chain issues and more.
The real question is, what insidious threat is all too often relegated to the background, passed on to the next operating budget? What problem is left to solve when revenue is on the right path, inventory is viable, growth is stable, and scaling begins to take shape?
Related: Cybersecurity is no longer an option. Your money is in immediate danger.
Ignoring warnings is the easiest – and short-sighted – route for SMBs
Ignoring the seriousness of cyber threats is a dangerous bet. The risk is undeniable:
- 61% of small businesses suffered a cyberattack in 2021
- Small businesses account for 43% of all data breaches
- More than half of small businesses victimized by a cyberattack close within six months
Recognizing the harsh reality that most people choose to ignore is a crucial starting point. A true understanding of the situation helps to know what protective measures need to be taken. Creating and implementing cybersecurity measures should be a top priority for businesses of all sizes, especially SMBs, where the margin for error is extremely high.
Pressure to allocate resources efficiently undermines cybersecurity efforts
There are few endeavors as nerve-wracking, terrifying, and potentially disastrous – yet 100% worth it – as starting and running a small business. I experienced the passion that animates those who dedicate themselves to its realization. I felt the fuel burning in team members fully committed to taking an idea and turning it into a viable, self-sustaining entity.
It’s no secret that the odds are stacked against us. The numbers don’t lie. It is widely reported that on average, 8 out of 10 small businesses fail within the first year. The odds get even bleaker five years from now, with nearly half of all new small businesses going out of business.
Given the obvious confidence and enthusiasm exuded by founders, why do the majority of small businesses trivialize or completely ignore cybersecurity? Why is the immense potential for all-too-real disaster lurking around every corner? It is a question of resources and the absence of an informed point of view.
Related: 5 Ways to Protect Your Business Against Cyberattacks
SMB leadership must elevate cybersecurity
Approaching cybersecurity as a small business is a necessary endeavor that sees increased complexity and effort over time. Fundamental measures must be taken, which are reinforced by increased security measures. Given the undeniable threats lurking, the stronger a company’s protection features, the better.
Here are some crucial steps to take right from the start:
- Internet security and firewall software. It is important to have anti-virus and firewall software running as they deal with separate issues. Firewalls prevent outside access to all data on a private network; the integration of reliable security software, operating systems and web browsers is an essential armor for the use of this networked data.
- Data backup. If a cyberattack occurs involving the misappropriation or corruption of company data, a reliable, quality backup will save your life. Data backups should be regularly updated to ensure timely use.
- Secure Wi-Fi. A simple and straightforward measure, a secure Wi-Fi setup is a powerful piece of the protection puzzle. It may be necessary to go beyond the basic security offered by your provider.
- Controlled access and authority. The most effective way to avoid potential crises is to implement controlled access to data and limit user authority. This action helps ensure that employees do not inadvertently install or use compromised programs, weaken cybersecurity settings, or access data and information beyond their control. responsibilities.
Awareness, education and formal policies are key to cybersecurity advocacy
One of the most critical steps a business can take is cybersecurity training for employees. Without a thorough knowledge and understanding of the myriad ways cybercriminals attack, employees are weak links that will inevitably be compromised. Basic instructions on the severity of the threat and the critical risks to avoid will go a long way to building the strength of active cybersecurity defense.
Providing your business with established cybersecurity policies and action plans reinforces the fundamental steps outlined above; these steps ingrain a defensive mindset and essential preparation to counter adaptive 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
- Action plan on mobile devices
- Crisis response/customer engagement plan
Related: 5 Leadership Strategies to Improve Team Performance and Grow Your Small Business
Ensuring survival and success as an SME in a difficult economic landscape
Every small business is unique. Every owner, every management team and every staff member — each has their own story. It is difficult to say whether they will all be informed.
As you navigate the endless parade of pressing concerns, imminent threats, and demands on dwindling time resources, the energy and effort required can seem overwhelming. Putting cybersecurity measures on the to-do list for another day might seem logical at the moment, but the reality paints a much different picture.
When running a small business, there are appropriate levels of time and resources to invest in any given problem. Finding the right level for their business will be a call they will have to make correctly.