Why Small Businesses Need to Prioritize Cybersecurity During COVID-19

By Devin Partida, Editor-in-Chief, ReHack.com

In the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, small businesses have to tackle a lot of obstacles. With health hazards and economic droughts threatening companies, preventing cybercrime may not seem like a priority right now. Despite the way it may seem, companies would benefit from learning some cybersecurity tips for small businesses.

The pandemic may have put many actions on pause, but not cybercrime. Over the past few months, the FBI has seen quadruple the cybercrime reports they did before the outbreak. As companies focus on other matters, they leave their data vulnerable, and hackers have taken full advantage of that opportunity.

Small and medium-sized businesses are at higher risk than most. On average, a cyberattack costs $200,000 in damages, which would affect a small company far more than a multinational conglomerate. Cyberattacks hit small businesses much harder, so they may not be able to recover.

Some small business owners may think they’re not a target, but that’s not the case. A notable 67% of companies with fewer than 1,000 employees have experienced a cyberattack, and 60% never recover. With these risks in mind, here are five cybersecurity tips for small businesses:

1. Install and Regularly Update Anti-Malware Tools

Most businesses already understand the importance of anti-malware software. Any company that doesn’t have any antivirus software needs to install it, as built-in solutions are typically unreliable. Many users also make the mistake of installing these programs and then not updating them.

Cybercrime is always evolving, so cybersecurity is likewise growing and adapting. If businesses don’t update their software, they could expose themselves to vulnerabilities a patch would have fixed. Given the dynamic nature of cybercrime, companies must ensure they keep their tools as up to date as possible.

2. Use Strong Passwords and Multifactor Authentication

Many people use the same password for multiple accounts, which presents a considerable security risk. In that situation, if a hacker steals one password, they can access a multitude of data. Companies need to urge their employees to use strong, varied passwords to avoid these risks.

On top of proper password management, businesses should use multifactor authentication. This service adds another layer of security so a user needs more credentials to access the same data. 

3. Create a Culture of Security

As much as 90% of cyberattacks result from human error. In a time as confusing as a pandemic, the risk of an employee making a dire mistake is even higher. Distracted by the chaos around them, workers who would otherwise be vigilant could fall for phishing attempts or forget protocol.

Small businesses that wish to uphold their cybersecurity need to reemphasize safe online practices with employees. Companies should hold regular security trainings and send frequent reminders to keep cybersecurity at the forefront of workers’ minds.

4. Keep Offline Backups of All Data

Even with extensive security measures, some threats can still penetrate a system and compromise data. Small businesses can keep backups of all crucial or sensitive data to ensure a breach won’t significantly damage them. A ransomware threat doesn’t pose as significant a risk if companies still have a copy of the hostage data.

These backups should be offline and in a different system than the rest of a business’s data. Keeping files segmentized will ensure that if one system is compromised, it won’t affect the other. 

5. Perform Regular Security Audits

Security audits, also known as penetration testing, allow businesses to measure the efficacy of their cybersecurity systems. Conducting these audits regularly can help companies see if they need to adjust their approach or not.

These penetration tests should include phishing simulations since email is the most common way cybercriminals infiltrate a business. Adaptation is vital in this endeavor, but after every adjustment, companies should run an audit to ensure the new system works.

Cybercrime Is As Serious a Threat As Ever

At first, these cybersecurity tips for small businesses may not seem crucial right now, but they’re more relevant than ever. Companies have various new concerns, but that doesn’t make historic threats less of a priority. In the face of economic hardship and rising cybercrime, small businesses need to pay attention to their cybersecurity.

Devin Partida is an industrial tech writer and the Editor-in-Chief of ReHack.com, a digital magazine for all things technology, big data, cryptocurrency and more. To read more from Devin, please check out the site.

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