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Keep It Local Contributing Author: Lindsey Weiss Outbounding.com
The life of a small business owner is rife with challenges. Some problems you can spot a mile away while others surprise you only after they’ve already happened. Issues pertaining to data security can be both, and either way, budding entrepreneurs are not spared from the threat.
Despite the rise of cybersecurity concerns, studies show that most small- to medium-sized business (SMB) leaders continue to underestimate the problem and its impact. An alarming 60 percent of SMBs have no cybersecurity prevention plan while only 9 percent see it as a business priority. It’s a typical “that will never happen to me” scenario—and one that can have serious repercussions.
The fact is cyber threats like data breaches, data loss and fraud can happen to anyone, and the more you know, the better equipped you are to handle them.
Why it happens
Cybersecurity issues run the gamut of unauthorized electronic data use, ranging from data breaches to fraud. These can be caused by a number of things, such as:
Human error – Weak passwords, sensitive data sent to the wrong recipient, sharing login information, falling for email or phishing scams, and more
Process failure – Ineffective employee offboarding that results in past employees or contractors exploiting access to data
Insider misuse – Deliberate abuse of authorized users
Unaddressed system vulnerabilities – Out-of-date software and vulnerabilities used by hackers to introduce malware and phishing tactics and infect networks
Any one of these can result in data being compromised. This is especially alarming when you handle sensitive customer information that leads to fraudulent transactions and theft.
What to do when it happens
Data breaches often result in financial losses, legal repercussions, and loss of faith from clients which, if not addressed correctly, can be devastating to your business. In truth, how you handle the aftermath will determine the survival of your business.
First thing’s first—don’t panic. Being hasty may do more harm than good. In fact, you may end up spending more time correcting the repercussions of your rushed response instead of dealing with the real problem. It’s a good idea, therefore, to spend time gathering facts and developing a good response strategy. You will need to review your obligations, both legal and ethical. There are various laws in place on the notification of customers in the wake of a breach, so make sure to review the ones that apply to you and find out what’s expected of you.
Next, do a postmortem on your systems and policies. Not only do you need to survey the damage but you also need to ensure that it stops there. Make sure to keep a written log of the actions you have taken in response to the problem, including mistakes, as this would be very helpful in addressing and even preventing future cybersecurity problems.
Lastly, know who to engage, such as law enforcement and/or IT experts. Most SMBs don’t have in-house IT to handle data security problems which is where professional technical support comes in. Hiring an agency like Secure Data Recovery in the event of data loss from email scams or phishing attacks will not only help you recover your data but also help you get back on your feet with minimal losses to your productivity. Such companies also do security audits to your IT solutions which, in turn, can help prevent future incidents, as well.
How to stop it from happening
There’s real truth in the adage that prevention is better than cure, and indeed, the best way to fight cyber threats is to prevent them from happening in the first place. Remember that no business is too small to have a solid cybersecurity strategy in place, so at the most basic level, make sure to invest in data and network security technology and keep them updated, educate your employees in information safety, enforce safe data practices, and regularly back up data.
With cybercrime becoming more sophisticated by the day, it’s high time that you make cybersecurity a priority. Your business depends on it more than you know.