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Small but Secure: Navigating Cybersecurity for Small Business

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The American Dream and business ownership often go hand-in-hand, with many entrepreneurs seeking to leave a lasting mark in their communities with the goods or services they have to offer. It's become an even more enticing career path as of late. In fact, small businesses (companies with less than 100 employees) make up 99% of all US businesses today.

While business ownership has its laundry list of advantages, including a flexible schedule, financial freedom, and the ability to pursue areas of passion, it also has its challenges – including a surprising increased risk of cyberattacks. Unfortunately, 43% of all cyberattacks are on small business. Sadly, too many businesses only realize they need a cybersecurity plan after falling victim to such an attack.

In 2020 alone, there were more than 700,000 attacks against small businesses totaling $2.8 billion in damages, and despite these staggering numbers, only a quarter of small business owners see cybersecurity as a top priority for their organization.

My No. 1 tip to new business owners, and I can't stress this enough, is don't fall prey to the idea that cyberthreats are only a risk for large enterprises. Small Businesses often suffer a cyber attack as threat actors cast a large net in their attacks and "accidentally" also impact targets beyond large companies. Cybercriminals are unfortunately also well aware that cybersecurity often isn't on the top of the priority lists for small, growing teams. As cybercriminals get smarter and their attacks widen in scope, it's imperative that current and aspiring business owners become just as savvy, in order to stay a step ahead.

Building in cybersecurity solutions at the beginning of your small business journey is the best thing you can do to ensure the longevity of your operation – and it doesn't need to be a complicated process.

The Case for Cybersecurity

It likely won't come as a shock that cyberattacks are increasing at unprecedented rates. In fact, the number of recorded cyberattacks on US organizations grew 57% year over year in 2022. What is perhaps more surprising is that small and very small businesses (SBs and VSBs) face unparalleled levels of cyberthreats compared to their larger business counterparts.

In fact, employees of small businesses will experience 350% more social engineering attacks than an employee of a larger enterprise, with damages often topping $25,000. According to data from Gen, of these threats, phishing – emails trying to trick you into clicking a link or transferring money – is the most common way cybercriminals try to access small business systems, including their private data, financials and intellectual property. Without the proper security measures in place, these attacks can be catastrophic for hardworking entrepreneurs.

With overwhelming data suggesting a heightened risk for small businesses, it's troubling that nearly half of businesses with less than 50 employees have no cybersecurity budget at all. With so much at stake, it's critical that current and aspiring business owners recognize the risks and act fast to find a trusted cybersecurity solution to keep their data and their customers' data safe.

Protecting your Business from the Start

Owning a small business often means each member of the team wears multiple different hats, and cybersecurity expert isn't typically one of them. It may be impractical to expect small and very small business owners to have a dedicated cyber expert, much less a team, but the good news is there are tools and software solutions available to help make cybersecurity so easy, anyone can do it.

Business owners should be looking for solutions that minimize the risk of breaches and maximize threat detection and response. Additionally, many cybersecurity solutions are either built for individual users, or larger enterprises, meaning they are difficult to scale and can't keep up with the changing needs of a growing business. Small and very small business owners need the Goldilocks solutions, one that's tailored specifically for them. The most efficient and effective solutions will have features including, but not limited to:

  • Built in password managers and VPN (virtual private network) to help secure day-to-day online activities that are crucial to keeping your business operating smoothly.
  • Automated PC cleaning and software updaters to keep PCs healthier for longer, and consistently up to date with the latest virus detection/protection.
  • Secure cloud backup so your data is protected, because even without the threat of cybercriminals, accidents happen!

An example of a solution that has all these features, and more, is Norton Small Business. Norton Small Business offers an easily managed, all-in-one triple lock solution that provides 24/7 cybersecurity protection that's accessible for small businesses to safeguard their team's online activities, devices and customer data.

While implementing a cyber safety solution is always a best practice, there are other steps business owners can take to keep cybersecurity at the forefront of their business practices, including:

  1. Learn to spot signs of phishing and provide training and learning opportunities for your employees to do the same. For example, only click links or download attachments from known sources
  2. Avoid sharing personal information or private company data over email
  3. Always keep your operating system, applications and drivers up-to-date and regularly back up your data to the cloud
  4. Make sure your WiFi network is protected with a strong password and require employees to use a VPN when doing company work on a public WiFi network (think airports and coffee shops)
  5. Don't neglect mobile devices – make sure they are password protected and use security software and multi-factor-authentication for an extra layer of protection

Small businesses are the backbone of the American economy, and the hard-working entrepreneurs that lead the charge deserve a fighting chance to achieve the American dream and run a successful operation.

There's so much that goes into building and operating a business, but I whole-heartedly believe investing in a strong, reliable cybersecurity solution is an absolutely essential step for small businesses to protect their assets, reputation and long-term success in an increasingly digital world. Regardless of what stage your business is at, implementing a cybersecurity plan will pay off in spades. Find your cybersecurity solution today so you can get back to what matters most – running your business.

By Massimo Rapparini, General Manager of SMB Cybersecurity & Online Safety at Gen

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