The importance of creating a small business Cybersecurity plan

April 29, 2021  |  Silvana Carpineanu

This blog was written by an independent guest blogger.

It’s estimated that cyber crime will cost businesses as much as $45,000,000,000 by 2025. Each year, small businesses who haven’t put a cyber security plan in place are at the mercy of hackers who are using ever increasingly sophisticated methods to breach their network, compromise their data - and even hold the business to ransom.

In this article, we’ll be looking at the importance of creating a small business Cybersecurity plan, and we’ll also show you which steps you need to take to create one of your own.

Why you need a Cybersecurity plan

Developing a cyber security strategy means you’re being proactive. You’re staying on top of risk and nipping attacks in the bud.

Early detection of threats

A Cybersecurity plan allows you to sniff attacks out quickly; while this doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll prevent an attack altogether, it does increase your chances of successfully resolving it.

Quick response to threats

Once you’ve detected a threat, you can then react quickly. Doing so will invariably save you time, money and hassle. It will also prevent your business from encountering a large-scale crisis that shuts it down completely, at least for a while.

Improved operational efficiency

On a macro level, a Cybersecurity plan allows your business to continue running efficiently. With procedures in place to thwart attacks automatically, your team can continue performing their jobs, focusing on the core aspects of your business.

Creating a small business Cybersecurity plan

Choose a firewall

Firewalls monitor your incoming and outgoing network traffic, looking out for malicious data packets before blocking them to prevent further problems. They are often your first line of defence against online attacks. However, there are different types of firewalls for different-sized businesses with different needs:

Network firewalls are designed to protect multiple computers at the same time.

Host-based firewalls defend a single computer. If your system has multiple computers, each one would require its own firewall if you choose this type.

Enterprise firewalls are the most expensive. They include VPNs and advanced monitoring, and are aimed at bigger businesses with numerous users and networks.

Choose the right Cybersecurity software

A Cybersecurity strategy starts with investing in the right tools. Cybersecurity tools are the easiest way to give yourself peace of mind, because you know that you’ve built a second line of defence on top of your firewall.

All businesses should make antivirus and anti-malware software a key part of their Cybersecurity plan. However, there are a lot of tools to consider, and each one has its pros and cons, being aimed at different organisations facing different threats.

Features to look out for include:

  • Threat intelligence
  • Network and host intrusion detection
  • SIEM security and monitoring
  • Patch management
  • Secure VPN
  • Report generator
  • Multi-layer ransomware protection

In 2021, the best software may include Artificial Intelligence (AI). AI in antivirus software is able to detect network anomalies, targeting those that behave suspiciously and preventing a breach. It can also spot new user log-ins and disable them, or at the very least notify you or the system administrator.

Put together a cross-functional security team

It’s always a smart idea to hire a cybersecurity team that can bolster your systems, but you need to do more. For example, you could put together an in-house cross-functional security team.

To do this, you’ll need to bring your employees together, including your marketing, HR and even legal departments, so that they understand what to do in the aftermath of an attack. For example: in the event of an attack, it’s important that your marketing team is trained at informing customers, so that trust and consumer confidence isn’t ruptured.

There are numerous moving parts when it comes to Cybersecurity, and while prevention is key, how your business reacts after an attack can be just as important. So gather a team that is dedicated to your data-security program, identify leaders and participants, and schedule regular meetings where you can discuss new risks and technology.

You could even work with each other to create mind maps or concept maps that help you all to understand who needs to do what in the event of an attack.

Decide how often you’ll perform data backups

Data backups are essential when it comes to your Cybersecurity plan. When data is lost due to a data failure, a backup allows you to retrieve it quickly and get back to work quickly. If data is stolen or breached due to a ransomware attack for example, your second or even third data copy will give you an advantage.

What data should you back up? According to the SBA, you should back up your accounts, human resources files, financial files, databases, spreadsheets and documents. Ideally, you should store them in the cloud, because server data is spread across multiple redundant servers. Any data you store in the cloud is immune to hardware failure - or attacks.

Decide how often you’ll perform data backups, and put in place a process that ensures the practice is carried out consistently. The general rule of thumb is that data backups should be performed every 24 hours, but it’s also a good idea to retain multiple copies if possible.

Talk to your team about the importance of not ignoring software updates, too.

Final thoughts

Each year and indeed each month, cybercriminals are fine-tuning their attacks and inventing new ways of infiltrating businesses’ online operations. Alarmingly, cyber crime has rocketed by 600% during the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, as long as you put in place the best cybersecurity practices, continue to monitor your system, educate your team and keep an eye out for future threats and cybercrime trends, you can reduce the risk of your business being disrupted.

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