Cyberspace has no borders. It operates on a global scale and has opened the doors to unprecedented ways of doing business. Recent statistics show more than two-thirds of small businesses have a dedicated website, use apps to run their businesses, and do their own digital marketing. Whether it be online shopping, social media or telecommuting, leveraging online tools makes it possible to decentralize business models and operate in a global market.
However, just as cyberspace has no borders, neither does cybercrime. Cyber-attacks are on the rise and small businesses are the primary target. According to a 2015 study, small to medium-sized business are a prime target for hackers because they have more assets than an individual consumer, but often have less security than a large enterprise[i]. In fact, 83% of small businesses have no formal cybersecurity plan[ii].
“Small to medium-sized businesses often have more limited resources than large, enterprise-level corporations to invest in cybersecurity, making them the most inviting targets for online hacking,” said Ron McKenzie, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at Shaw Communications. “Once a business has been targeted, their revenues, intellectual property, customer information and banking information are at risk, and so is their reputation.”
Thirty-six thousand dollars is the average cost for a small business that has been the victim of a cyber-attack[iii], and that number can increase significantly after considering additional indirect expenses and revenue lost during downtime[iv].
So how does a small business protect themselves without the resources of a large enterprise? Several firewall, malware and antivirus services are in the market to help protect a business’ network from being breached. Shaw Business, for example, offers a robust network security system for businesses. And, perhaps just as importantly, Shaw Business also provides an informative checklist of proactive solutions that businesses can leverage to reduce their vulnerability to an attack and protect their information infrastructure:
- Educate employees – awareness of phishing and malware is essential for all staff and contractors.
- Step up your password game – maintain policies to force frequent password changes.
- Enable security safeguards – all businesses need antivirus software and a firewall.
- Embrace encryption – use secure sites (with “https” in the address) and secure your own site with an SSL certificate.
- Be on top of mobile security – all devices should have passwords, including phones and tablets
- Don’t share your business network – separate customer-facing and business networks.
- Consider a security solution that leverages the cloud – safeguard with multiple layers of security and backup available through large enterprises.
Taking these essential steps can save a business of any size from a crippling cyber-attack by preventing some of the most common methods of intrusion, such as phishing emails, ransomware and trojans.
“There are now options available to small and medium-sized businesses that are uniquely tailored to meet their needs,” said McKenzie. “A security platform such as Shaw Business’ SmartSecurity offers enterprise-grade cyber protection, powered by Cisco Meraki, at a price catered towards small businesses.”