As we discussed in the first article of our series covering the scope of cybersecurity for small businesses, many growing companies operate under a belief that they are less subject to threats due to their size and a perceived lack of valuable commodity. Small business, even with a number of cybersecurity threats rising around it, leans toward allocating little, if any at all, of their budget to risk mitigation. Often the justification is notable: they just don’t believe that they have any valuable data. This understanding, as demonstrated by the discussion of cyber risk in small business in our first article, “Small Business Cybersecurity: You’re More Vulnerable than You Think,” is an outdated and naïve stance to take considering the state of risk involved. The disconnect between the risk that any small business assumes by using personally identifiable information (PII) at  any level, and their understanding of their position and need to protect that information at all costs is nightmarish chasm that will likely get any growing company into trouble with time.

An Education in Preventing Breaches in the Small Business Sector

Many of the common attacks targeting small business hit unsuspecting companies in the form of malware, Denial of Service (DoS) attacks, or zero-day attacks, often through phishing or other tactics meant to ensnare organizations. As we’ve mentioned, it is essential for you to gain an understanding of how seriously at risk your business may be. These attacks that target smaller organizations often move quickly and are becoming more and more sophisticated. In fact, it is becoming increasingly difficult for the everyday business owner to be competent in spotting malicious attacks.

4 Actions to Help Your Small Business Prevent the Devastating Effects of a Data Breach

  1. Employ a Third-Party Monitoring Service

It’s unlikely that as a small business owner, you will be uniquely qualified to be both an expert in your industry, as well as an information security virtuoso. Many small businesses undervalue how useful third-party monitoring can be. A primary benefit of utilizing third-party monitoring lays simply in the ability for you as a business owner to do what you do best. It’s improbable that, as a smaller organization, you will be able to employ the talent and equipment for continual monitoring on site. Third-party monitoring is often the most logical and economical option for small businesses that are beefing up their security efforts. Employing a third-party to aid in your security efforts allows you to focus your expertise on revenue-generating activities. A monitoring service will be staffed with security pros who can focus on what they are trained to do—safeguard your organization’s sensitive data.

  1. Consider Cybersecurity Insurance

Many small businesses don’t realize that cybersecurity insurance is available. Just like insurance that covers your property, business insurance, health and wellbeing, or other assets like your vehicle, so exists cybersecurity insurance for your organization that can be a necessary part of an essential prevention plan.

By design, cyber liability insurance protects your organization from the many cyber threats that target smaller organizations. As we have been made aware, a security breach is almost certain to occur in small business and a blow to a growing organization can be brutal. It is likely that you will be responsible for legal costs associated with the breach and too many burgeoning corporations are taken out by lawsuits. Cyber liability insurance may seem unnecessary, but could be your saving grace in the event of a leak.

  1. Review Regulatory Guidelines

As a business owner, you should be aware of the regulatory requirements surrounding PII. However, depending on your industry, there might be additional restrictions set in place to help you manage and protect against breaches of sensitive information. For example, Healthcare must be compliant with the requirements of HIPAA, financial services must be well versed in the regulations of the PCI Data Security Standards.

Compliance regulations are put into place to help keep your organization safe. Adhering to the frameworks set out by these standards will naturally put you in a better position for responding and avoiding devastating breaches. Being accountable to applicable compliance standards are critical to your prevention plan for risk management. Regulatory Guidelines aren’t meant just for enforcement, in a lot of cases they can be one of your best resources for developing a prevention plan.

  1. Invest in Cybersecurity Tools for Your Business

It’s become common knowledge that hosting any software in our modern landscape of cyber threat will likely need additional consideration in the way of antivirus software for protection of data. Tom’s Guide features an updated guide for the reliable software and apps to get you started. Some of the software mentioned include firewall protection and password managers allowing you to hit two birds in your security to-do list.

With the implementation of high-quality antivirus software, be sure that you also install patches to all of your company software. Effective software solutions do a lot of the work in safeguarding company information, but only if you have them up-to-date.

Most companies are catching on to the basics of security and are hopefully already taking action to integrate employee training, restricting access to avoid insider threats, and incorporating a strong password policy. However, small businesses cannot get by with just the basic amateur precautions. It’s necessary that every business owner become an authority in managing risk, even if that means getting outside help. As dangerous attacks keep getting attention in the news, often reporting on larger corporations becoming victims, it’s even more devastating for small business to be targeted. Create a program that supports accountability and greater assurance for your small business.

A breach might not always be entirely unavoidable, even if you have taken the above steps to markedly decrease your risks and ensure you’re ready for looming threat. The third article in our small business cybersecurity series explores a response plan. It might just be inevitable that your small company will experience a security breach, you should have a written breach response plan prepared and ready to go in the event that you are left to manage the effects of a data breach. Stay tuned for our last installment of Small Business: Cybersecurity.