As a small business owner, being aware of the risks that threaten to halt your operations and adequately preparing for any eventuality is crucial for your survival. While it’s usually the most common issues that you safeguard yourself against, it’s usually the risks you that aren’t front of mind that poses the biggest threat.
One of the most often overlooked threats is an IT security breach. The repercussions of compromised data can have devastating effects on an array of your business functions. If you want to ensure that your business can ward off and survive a security breach, it’s crucial to understand the risks and put mechanisms in place to help you secure your business critical information. In this blog, we look at the potential security threats your small business is vulnerable to as well as what systems and software you can implement to avoid costly downtime.
Top three IT security threats that lead to data loss
Malware is one of the most common IT security breaches and comes in many shapes and forms such as viruses, worms, Adware, Spyware and Trojans. While many of these can go relatively unnoticed, they can cause harm to your computer and jeopardise your data. For instance, Trojans are used to gain access to login details and allow cyber attackers to gain access to sensitive personal information stored on your computers and network. Severe malware attacks can even result in the complete loss of your business critical data. There are many tools and software on the market to help protect against malware such as antivirus, scanners and a robust firewall.
Put literally, a phishing attack is just that – an attempt to fish for information on your PC or from your network. These breaches are usually targeted at gaining access to banking details, or to directly steal money and are prompted by email messages, websites and phone calls. Sophisticated cyber criminals will try to con you into installing malicious software or directly hand over your details. Should you come across any potential phishing attempt, contact law enforcement authorities or your banking institution to investigate?
Accidental data leaks by staff
Your business data is as much at risk to internal leaks as it is to outside breaches. With an increased use of personal devices for business (BYOD) and increased remote working through collaboration software, there are many more entry points for a security breach. Your employees leave your network vulnerable through the websites they visit and potentially dangerous emails they receive. One of the best ways to ensure that your data is secure is to create a data policy and train your staff on the risks and signs of malicious software. Antivirus software along with a secure email network is also a must to ensure the utmost safety of your information.
The consequences and impact of a security breach in your small business.
Regardless of what industry your business operates in, information is at the core of every operation. And should you lose access to that data, or it becomes compromised, you are subject to a severe impact on functionality. Downtime as a result of a security breach could temporarily halt business resulting financial losses and potential reputational damage. The inability to service clients due to loss of your own information, or even worse their information they’ve entrusted you with, could potentially see you close your doors. Further, with increased protection of consumer rights, if you don’t put every measure in place to protect customer information in your business you could also face the full might of the law.
Preparing for and surviving a security breach
While the above-mentioned consequences are enough to keep any small business owner up at night, there are various ways in which you can ensure that your business isn’t just safeguarded from a security breach but can also continue to operate in the unfortunate event of a cyber-attack. The better you know how data flows through your business, where it’s stored, and how secure it is the better equipped you are to fend off a potential security breach. Not all data in your business is of equal priority and confidentiality, so ensure that you manage it accordingly. Limit access to sensitive information to only those that need to be able to view it, and password protect all files. Educate yourself and your staff on any new security risks that emerge and consult with an IT security expert to help ensure you have the right safety measure in place to protect your business.