According to the Small Business Administration, there are more than 33 million small businesses in the United States, employing more than 60 million people. When it comes to running a business, there are many things that an employer has to keep in mind. And keeping their company secure from cybersecurity risk should be at the top of that list.That means understanding the types of cyber risk—internal and external—that it faces. One necessary element for all small firms is to have a good cybersecurity plan in place. In order to do that, it's critical to understand exactly what it is and how to implement it.
What Is Small Business Cybersecurity?
Small business cybersecurity is the process of protecting the networks, data, and computers in a company from bad actors. This means carrying out a risk assessment to identify weak points and then implementing safeguards and training employees on security measures, including how to minimize cyber risk.
Do All Small Businesses Need Cybersecurity?
In short, yes. All businesses, no matter how small, are subject to cyber threats. That's because all businesses today rely on computers to get at least part of the job done. You may not need all the bells and whistles that a large corporation needs, but having at least the bare minimum, such as endpoint protection—the process of securing computers and other devices—and a firewall, is essential.
What Are the Cybersecurity Risks That Small Businesses May Face?
There are a number of cybersecurity risk opportunities for a small business. These include, but aren't limited to:
- Phishing attack
- Insider threat
- Website attacks
- Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks
- Password attacks
- Social engineering attacks
Bad actors will typically try more than one type of attack in order to have the biggest impact. Of these, the most common threats are phishing attacks, malware, ransomware, insider threats, and weak password security. A good security system along with diligent employee training on cybersecurity best practices can prevent most of these from occurring.
How Much Should a Small Business Budget for Cybersecurity?
This is a rather subjective question because the amount of protection a company should have is based on several factors, including the nature of its business, the type of data it handles, its size, and any specific compliance requirements it must adhere to.
However, most experts agree that a cybersecurity budget should encompass 5 to 20% of a company's total IT budget.
How Do Cyber Attacks Affect Small Businesses?
Cyber attacks can affect small businesses in many different ways. There's the obvious: the financial side—these companies likely don't have the resources to bounce back from a severe financial loss and may have to close their doors.
Someone hacking accounts and stealing personal information could cause havoc with customers, subjecting them to identity theft. This can also lead to reputation damage, which lessens the public trust in a company and can result in financial losses.
Then, there's the risk to intellectual property if bad actors get their hands on proprietary information and a loss of competitive advantage isn't out of the question either.
All of these potential outcomes could cause a devastating effect and result in a permanent loss of business and worse, permanent closure.
How Much Could a Cyber Attack Cost a Small Business?
Depending on the nature of the cyber attack, the effects on small businesses could be minor or significant. The biggest cost of all is if the effects are so damaging it requires the company to close.
Minor losses are typically covered by insurance companies, and by installing proper security measures, you can avoid these happening in the future.
What Are the Best Cybersecurity Practices for a Small Business to Implement?
There are a number of small business cybersecurity practices that you can implement from the start according to the NIST cybersecurity framework. These include:
- Risk assessment - identify your weaknesses and learn how to plug them
- Train employees - teach them the best practices and instill the importance of a strong password
- Use Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) - this mandates more than one form of security to get to sensitive information
- Backup data regularly - to prevent loss of data
- Update and patch software - keeping software up to date ensures it has the strongest protection available
- Install antivirus software and anti-malware programs - these will safeguard devices from breaches
- Limit access - prevents unauthorized access; make sure employees only have access to information or programs suited to their roles
- Install cameras - can help deter internal theft and monitor areas with network equipment
Not all of these practices will be necessary for every type of business, some are designed for enterprise cybersecurity, but it's a good starting point for determining which types of protection are needed most.
How Can a Small Business Best Protect Against Cyber Threats?
In order to safeguard against cyber threats, it's critical to implement some of the tools for cybersecurity for small businesses listed above. In addition, you should always layer defenses, making it even harder for hackers or those who would do your company harm, to access sensitive information.
Should one of the above happen, and it's very common, it's important to have an incident response plan in place. This determines the steps your IT team will take in the event that a cyber incident occurs.
How Can Mastercard Help Me?
Knowing where your weaknesses are is a great place to start. Mastercard has a unique solution offering, My Cyber Risk, especially designed to help small businesses achieve better risk outcomes. Request a demo to see how to keep your small business secure.