Technological advancements in the past decade have redefined the way we live and work. Empowered by software, small businesses are evolving and have migrated key operations online, allowing them to provide sophisticated, streamlined services to their customers. The widespread adoption of cloud solutions – like instant messaging, video conferencing and CRM platforms – has allowed businesses to work remotely in a cost-effective manner, without their ability to serve their customers suffering. This has been especially imperative as small businesses continue to work remotely as a result of the pandemic.
While the convenience of technology is undeniable, it presents risks if not properly managed. As our reliance on smart devices and online applications increases and our personal data is being saved in more places online, cyberattacks across Australia are becoming more prevalent and more damaging. Considering the financial and reputational ramifications, ensuring your business and its employees are equipped with basic cyber awareness and data literacy is now more important than ever. If you’re a small business owner, here are some insights into why and how to protect your company’s cybersecurity.
Take your privacy obligations seriously
With the rapid adoption of remote, internet-enabled work, threats to our businesses are changing and so, too, are the ways to protect them. While emptying the cash register, locking the door and switching on the CCTV would’ve been second nature, safeguarding their customers’ personal data – like payment information – from unscrupulous hackers must become equally as important. After all, if privacy obligations aren’t taken seriously, even a small attack can have serious consequences such as damaged reputation and loss of customers. Resolving these issues often carry high costs and can impede company growth.
No organisation is safe from a cyberattack, but small businesses are often more vulnerable for the simple fact that they lack the expertise or resources of bigger companies. Hackers act by finding a vulnerability in a system and exploiting it. There are a number of ways an attacker can gain access to a network, such as embedding their own code in a website or installing their own software to damage a system. However, there are also a number of ways your small business can implement safeguards that act as a stronger deterrent to hackers.
Action and education: Controlling your cybersecurity
Improving your defences against cyber attacks is about clearly defining policies, educating your employees with regular information sessions and implementing necessary protections. A simple protection, but often overlooked, is the importance of strong passwords across tools. Passwords are the first line of defence for any account and they should be secured at all costs. Mandating the use of only a few applications, with strong built-in privacy capabilities, is another effective way to help protect your business from cyber threats. Furthermore, investing in a VPN (Virtual Private Network) can also grant safe access to data while allowing employees to securely connect with the office network while adding an SSL certificate to your website can protect the data of those who visit it.
While preventative security policies are the priority, it’s essential to also have a reliable backup mechanism in the event that an attack does occur. Setting a periodic backup of daily tasks performed can safeguard your business and help to restore all critical data and continue business operations with minimum interruption.
In a time of uncertainty in which online risks are heightened, small businesses can no longer afford to ignore their cybersecurity obligations and must understand the potentially existential risks and how to mitigate them. But by staying informed and implementing protections, you can ensure your business, your employees and your customers stay safe.
Vijay Sundaram, Chief Strategy Officer, Zoho