You hear about it all the time: A promising company is caught completely off-guard by a cybersecurity breach or computer crash and brought to the brink of ruin as millions of dollars go out the digital window. This is an especially grave threat for new businesses just finding their footing in an uncertain market, especially since most entrepreneurs have their minds focused on everything but tech security. Here are four simple protocols you need to keep your business safe from threats to your digital infrastructure.
Whether you want to blame moral turpitude or miseducation, there's no denying that we live in an age of zero trust when it comes to cybersecurity. Unfortunately, the paranoia is justified. Business owners need to have at least a basic understanding of how their online technological infrastructure works in order to know how to protect it, yet we know this isn't happening because research continues to indicate that small businesses are seen as a soft target by hackers.
The good news is that the effort to educate business owners is ramping up, with even venerable institutions like Stanford University now offering cybersecurity courses. Take advantage of any new source of information regarding emerging online threats.
The most basic technological security investment is also arguably the most important. A good antivirus program doesn't just block viruses but also worms and malware. Speaking of malware, firewalls are especially useful against email-based phishing attacks.
Unfortunately, people aren't installing these versatile programs on as many devices as they should, with a recent Kaspersky study from the U.K. showing that almost a third of users never even considered having antivirus software installed on their phones. Given that businesses are often managed directly from a smartphone these days, this can be a very costly oversight. Remember to update your defenses regularly, because malicious hackers are developing new tactics and tools all the time. When a new software security patch comes out, install it without delay.
According to the Ponemon Institute's 2018 Cost of a Data Breach study, the cost of data loss is around $148 per record breached. This can obviously be a knockout blow to a startup running on limited resources. Some of this can be mitigated by rapid data recovery and by keeping the most sensitive files off of systems connected directly to the internet.
At the very least, all important data should be backed up in multiple secure locations. This means not simply saving a backup in the cloud, but also using flash drives that can be stored away behind a physical lock and key. Don't forget the value of hardcopies, especially as the same study found that system glitches account for around 25% of data loss incidents.
The role of human error in security breaches and system failures cannot be overstated. In fact, studies show that human error is in some way responsible for over a quarter of all data loss.
Reason number one is that employees tend to lack basic security knowledge (unless they're professionals in that field). Writing down passwords, improperly disposing of documents, opening emails from unrecognized points of origin and using unsecured personal devices for business are all behaviors that let hackers in the front door.
A second reason for human error is simple failure to maintain or properly use technology in the first place. Glitches are often the result of lax maintenance and low mindfulness by users. Even something as simple as forgetting to install a surge protector can have devastating consequences. The training process needs to start at onboarding and be followed up with regular refresher courses to keep skills honed and attention focused.
There's a saying in the computer world: GIGO. That stands for garbage in, garbage out. What it means is that our technology is only as good as how we use it. Its effectiveness in making business more efficient depends entirely on our awareness level. Keeping these strategies in mind helps make sure your operation moves into the future safely.
Publish Date: March 5, 2021 6:58 PM