When it comes to risk management, most small businesses are primarily concerned with labor and safety compliance. They take steps to ensure their workplace is free of harassment and damaging practices, ensure their employees are paid correctly and treated fairly, and keep their workplace safe. But in today’s highly digital world, it’s just as important to take risk management into the digital sphere.

Cybersecurity isn’t just important for mega-corporations whose employee base reaches around the nation or the world. Small businesses (SMBs) are also at risk—in fact, SMBs are three times more likely to be hit with a social engineering attack than large businesses. This is because SMBs are collectively less educated and prepared to handle cyberattacks, even though cyberattacks make up a significant portion of the data cybercriminals target.

Data security should be a top concern for business owners as data breaches can lead to regulatory fines and legal consequences, on top of the loss of intellectual and personal data. So, what steps can your small business take to improve its cybersecurity? Below are six practices you can implement today that will help protect your business.

1. Employee education and internal policies

Build cybersecurity and data protection into your company policy by introducing them as a core aspect of your business practices. Teach your employees to identify phishing scams and other targeted email attacks. Create clear steps for them to take when they’ve been targeted. Ensure your employees are incentivized to come forward when they think they’ve succumbed to an attack rather than keep it secret for fear of repercussions.

Create clear rules and guidelines around using passwords and account login information. Integrate this into your onboarding strategy, so new employees know about and use the policy from the get-go.

2. Update your software

Ensure the software your organization relies upon is always up to date. This includes ensuring all company computers and computers used to access company data always have the latest software update. Keep a list of all the software your organization uses (such as website plugins, design software, and communication software) and track how often updates should occur as well as the last time the software was updated. This can help you identify weak points in your company’s data security and create accountability around who oversees keeping company software up to date.

3. Implement protective software

Introduce protective software tools to help your company keep its data safe. Password management tools 1Password can help your organization store all its sensitive account login data in a secure platform, ensuring employees aren’t saving their personal logins in unprotected environments.

Use software on all your company devices that helps ensure network security, application security, viruses, etc. There are many security software options that offer upgraded security with subscription buy-ups.

4. Create an accounts permissions policy

Create a strict permissions policy for your employees. Avoid giving administrative permissions to employees unnecessarily. Ensure your employees only have access to the permissions they need for their role. This will help you reduce the opportunity for misuse of user access to sensitive company data and settings.


5. Back up your data

Create consistent, secure data backups stored on a different server than your live data. This will help your organization effectively return to functioning order if you’re subject to ransomware or other data breaches.


6. Document your policies

It’s important that the information needed to maintain and understand your organization’s cybersecurity systems is available for employees to access at any time. This will ensure you’re not left wondering what you don’t know if a key employee suddenly leaves their position. Insist that all policies and activity be meticulously tracked and documented so that there is no opportunity for lost information in the event of a personnel change.

Be proactive

When it comes to risk management for your small business, cybersecurity should be at the top of your list. None of the six steps outlined in this blog take an unreasonable amount of time or energy to implement, so there is no excuse to avoid them. If you feel overwhelmed by the process, begin one step at a time. You can take your organization from an extremely vulnerable position to effectively protected and prepared in just a few months. Compared to the devastating consequences a cyberattack can have on a small business, it’s worth the effort every time.


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