IT Management

How You Can Grow Your Small Business With Cyber Security

By | 9 min read | Published

Curious about how cybersecurity can grow your business? Read on to find out more.

Today’s small businesses are under threat on many fronts, but one of the most sinister threats is cyber risk. Cyberattacks pose serious security breaches that affect your bottom line, reputation, data integrity, and consumer trust. Worse still, they hamper business growth, productivity, and security.

With the rapid increase, frequency, and advancement in sophisticated security threats, it’s crucial for business owners to be proactive in protecting their enterprises. This means always being prepared for potential security breaches by putting in place an ironclad cybersecurity strategy.

How can you ensure business growth with cybersecurity? Read on to find out.

Cybersecurity threats to small businesses

Most of the cybersecurity breaches we hear about occur in large organizations. But that doesn’t mean small businesses are not at risk too. Indeed, many of them don’t have sophisticated IT security systems in place, making them vulnerable to hackers.

Sadly, most small businesses might not have the finances to recover from such attacks, making it more prudent, business-wise, to prevent security breaches instead of seeking remediation afterward.

Cyber threats on small businesses take many forms. They include the following:

  • Viruses: Malicious computer code designed to steal data or cause damage. They typically spread from one device to the other.
  • Identity theft: Attackers steal a victim’s personal details by cracking their password and use the information for criminal activities.
  • Malware: This is software that’s specially designed to help gain unauthorized access or damage to computer systems.
  • Spyware: Any software that self-installs on your computer and secretly monitors your online activity. This happens without your permission or knowledge with the data relayed to 3rd parties.
  • Phishing: A scam designed to procure sensitive information or documents, like bank account details typically via email. The perpetrator often masquerades as a legitimate person or business.

How to use cyber security to grow your business

While most business owners view cybersecurity purely as a means to reduce and eliminate cyber risks posed by hackers, it offers much more. If positioned well, cybersecurity benefits your business by acting as a growth enabler. It enhances your reputation in the marketplace and provides your business with a unique differentiator in terms of positioning.

Besides, with more businesses moving to the digital space, working remotely, or developing digital offerings, small businesses with airtight cybersecurity systems boast a competitive advantage over those that don’t. Customers trust companies whose products and services are secure. This boosts their loyalty, and as a result, attracts and wins new customers to your business.

With the above in mind, here’s how to support the growth of your small business with a well-designed cybersecurity program:

1. Perform Risk Assessment

The first step in performing a cybersecurity risk assessment entails being cognizant of potential cyber security threats and taking steps to protect your data and systems. Establishing the level of risk within your business is a key part of being proactive and strategic.

Being proactive is crucial in preventing potential cyber threats to your business. It entails leveraging up-to-date security solutions, as well as the latest news and insight. While this requires investment, it puts your business ahead of potential attacks.

For best results, hire a cybersecurity expert to perform the risk assessment. A professional will also advise you on the best security measures and help you put up an agile cybersecurity program.

Here are some additional tips for cybersecurity risk assessment:

  • Evaluate potential risks that could compromise the security of your computer systems, networks, and information.
  • Identify who has access to what data and how and where it is stored.
  • Identify likely threats and formulate a plan to plug any existing security gaps.
  • Review and update your security programs and strategies regularly.

Ultimately, risk assessment can improve your business in several ways:

  • It saves money. You can stay ahead of the cybersecurity curve, and as a result, save your business the high costs resulting from a cyberattack, by leveraging the most up-to-date solutions and reading up on the latest news and insights.
  • It’s beneficial to employees: Workers will become knowledgeable on cybersecurity matters and can help you identify existing threats. It also creates a general awareness of how the business manages its defenses and pinpoints where you can improve.
  • Regulatory compliance. It helps you stay compliant with any government regulations on online security that are relevant to your industry.

2. Configure network systems to prevent cyber attacks

Once hackers infiltrate your network, they could use whatever information they come across to cause harm. For instance, hackers could access client information, company banking details, expansion plans, and manufacturing processes for their own sinister purposes, typically holding the information for ransom or selling it on the black market.

Even worse, the attackers could leverage access to your network and invade the networks of other companies you associate or partner with.

To prevent such grim scenarios, it’s essential to segment your networks. This limits user access as well as the level of penetration in case of a security breach. Remember, each device that connects to your network is an access point, and a potential entry point for hackers seeking access. Therefore, you need to create guest accounts and ensure secure remote access.

Determine how to share company data with suppliers and third parties. Also, make sure you keep monitoring network activity to spot suspicious activity, unauthorized access, or system breaches in good time.

Other valuable safety measures include:

  • Encrypting sensitive information and performing regular backups
  • Keeping all Wi-Fi network connections hidden
  • Using a firewall, and installing antivirus software and anti-spyware
  • Installing up-to-date patches and setting up automatic updates
  • Discouraging employees from connecting to public Wi-Fi hotspots
  • Setting up a storage system other than your standard cloud storage

3. Establish containment and recovery measures

You need to establish containment and recovery measures in case of a cyberattack. This involves creating regular backups to minimize the impact of security breaches. Back up important data, preferably daily or at least once a week.

Among the documents to back up are sensitive documents like customer information, company data, and financial records. This helps to keep them secure and protects your business from losing valuable data.

Ideally, you should make three copies of your data. Have two on two separate media (on a disk and in a cloud) and the third in an offsite location. This will become handy in the event you need to recover your data.

Additionally, you can have different types of backups. Full backup, where you back up everything, or incremental backup that entails taking into consideration any changes made since the previous full backup. Finally, you can also have an incremental backup that captures all updates since the previous full backup and ignores any incremental backups.

It’s important to note that hiring a security specialist can provide invaluable assistance in gathering evidence about the security breach. With this information, law officers can track a hacker’s trail, making it easier to resolve the incident and stop future attacks.

If you suffer a data breach, take the following steps:

  • Change your passwords immediately.
  • Get in touch with law enforcement so they can start working on the case.
  • Inform your customers, business partners, and suppliers. Also include your bank and email provider.
  • Hire a cybersecurity expert to help establish the extent of the security breach and steps to recovery.

4. Develop business continuity plans

It’s vital to have business continuity plans in the event that your business suffers a cyberattack. Such programs help mitigate the financial costs resulting from a cyberattack and include backing up your system and having alternative data sites.

Consider buying cybersecurity insurance. Once an attack occurs, cyber insurance steps in, enabling your businesses to recover from financial losses. It also helps pay for business recovery—including legal fees—and covers the costs of breach investigations.

Here are some tips to guide you on establishing a business continuity plan:

  • Pay close attention to the exact details of your business continuity coverage. For instance, it should identify key business sectors and critical functions and how to maintain operations.
  • When choosing your cyber insurance, take careful note of what type of cyber attacks the policy covers, the exclusions, and the exact details of business continuity coverage.
  • Set up policies regarding what employees should do in case of a security breach.
  • Establish reporting protocols to be used by all employees if and when a cyber threat occurs.

5. Invest in employee education

Employees are your business’ first line of defense. Therefore, you need to raise their awareness about the risks posed by cybercrimes and the mitigation steps they need to take. This entails training staff to understand how cyber attackers work and how to prevent potential attacks. The easiest and most effective way to do this is by cultivating a security culture.

In addition, take the following security measures:

  • Install regular software updates and patches.
  • Restrict employee access to sensitive company information.
  • Establish clear policies regarding handling business and customer information.
  • Use strong passwords on all company devices to minimize the risk of unauthorized access to business systems.
  • Encourage employees to report any cases of suspicious emails, links, or attachments from unknown sources.
  • Hold regular employee training sessions on how to spot potential scams and call in industry experts for the same.

Be proactive and vigilant when it comes to cybersecurity

Investing in cybersecurity is a proactive strategy that helps protect your business against cyber threats. Any business can be a target, hence the need to keep yourself updated on potential threats. Follow this by enhancing your cybersecurity defenses with a comprehensive risk management strategy to safeguard business assets, data, and ward off or limit possible attacks.

Ultimately, preventing data breaches saves your business millions that your company can put to much better use, such as investing in business growth. Also, it saves the firm and its employees both the time and effort needed for mitigation and business recovery.

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About the Author

Jerry Low - Guest Contributor

Jerry Low - Guest Contributor

Jerry Low has years of experience in SEO and web hosting business. He owns and operates various successful sites, adapting quickly to ever-changing Google updates.

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