Cybersecurity for Small Businesses: Best Practices and Risks

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According to Accenture’s Cybercrime study, nearly 43% of cyberattacks are targeted at small and medium businesses. Of these, only 14% are prepared to face such an attack.

This alarming statistic means cybersecurity is no longer a luxury but a necessity, underscoring the urgent need for small businesses to prioritize implementing robust cybersecurity solutions that protect sensitive data and defend them against potential threats.

In this article, we explore some of the most effective cybersecurity tips for small businesses to help owners protect their companies effectively.

Key Takeaways

  • Cybercriminals often target small businesses due to their limited resources and potentially weaker security measures.
  • With cyberthreats constantly looming, CEOs and business owners must take immediate action to safeguard their company’s network and online security.
  • The repercussions of a successful cyberattack can be catastrophic, leading to financial loss and irreparable damage to a reputation built up over many years, only to be ruined in a day.
  • There are financial costs to a well-thought-out cyber defense strategy. However, a security breach can cost much more than any security solution.

Cybersecurity Solutions for Business

Security solutions come in many shapes and sizes. Still, the critical factor is how a solution will align with your risk appetite and tactical and strategic goals.

Cybersecurity solutions for small businesses are varied and must cover the aspects of technology, people, and processes.

The first step in finding the right cybersecurity solution is identifying your assets. Start by assessing your assets and determining what needs to be protected. Then, invest in comprehensive cybersecurity solutions tailored to your specific needs, requirements, and risk appetite.


Cybersecurity Best Practices for Small Businesses

Ensure that your staff undergoes security awareness training and configure your security technologies and processes optimally to defend against cyberattacks successfully.

Cybersecurity best practices for small businesses include:

1. Train Employees in Security Principles

Make sure to educate your employees about cybersecurity. Teach them about the significance of using strong passwords, being wary of suspicious emails and websites, and promptly reporting security incidents.

2. Protect Information, Computers, and Networks

This can be done by using firewalls, antivirus software, and encryption to ensure the security of your data and systems.

3. Establish Basic Security Practices and Policies

It’s essential to implement certain practices and policies. This includes encouraging strong passwords, restricting access to sensitive information, and setting guidelines for internet use.

4. Regularly Update Software and Systems

Regularly update your software, operating systems, and applications to keep them up-to-date with the latest security patches and features.

5. Implement Safe Password Practices

Ensure your employees use strong, individual passwords/passphrases and update them every three months. You should also consider using multi-factor authentication for extra protection.

6. Back Up Your Data

Regularly back up your data to protect against data loss due to cyberattacks or other incidents.

7. Create a Mobile Device Action Plan

As more employees are working from home, it is crucial to safeguard mobile devices by using robust passwords, encryption, and other security measures such as mobile device management (MDM).

8. Be Cautious of Phishing Emails

Educate your staff to recognize and steer clear of fraudulent emails aimed at obtaining valuable data.

9. Use 2-Step Verification

One way to enhance security is by using 2-step verification for user accounts, which adds an additional layer of protection.

10. Stay Informed About Cyberthreats

Join security forums and stay informed about the latest cybersecurity trends and threats to ensure your small business is well-prepared.

By following these best practices, small businesses can significantly reduce their cyber-attack risk and protect their valuable data and systems.

In addition to the above, an excellent place to start for businesses based in the UK is with IASME’s Cyber Essentials (CE). Certifying with CE means a company has commonsense configurations to protect against 80% of cyberattacks.

Firms in the USA can approach the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the US equivalent of the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC). CISA has what they call the Cyber Essentials Starter Kit. 

Cybersecurity Policy

A cybersecurity policy, whether a basic document or a detailed manual, is essential for every small company. This policy helps protect valuable data, reduces expenses, instills stakeholder confidence, and helps guard against cyberthreats.

Implementing a cybersecurity policy is a proactive measure that ensures the ongoing prosperity and durability of the business.

Cyber Security Insurance for Small Business

Have you considered cyber insurance to protect your business? This type of insurance can protect your company from losses caused by cyberattacks.

To determine the best policy for your company, discuss the insurance policies available with your insurance agent. Be sure to ask what will be covered under your cyber insurance.

Typically, they can cover attacks arising from a data breach, attacks on your network, data stored by your managed service providers (MSPs), and acts of terrorism.

It’s also worth noting that free cyber insurance may be available if your business has been certified as Cyber Essentials Plus.

Cybersecurity Risks for Small Businesses

There’s no sugarcoating the stark fact that businesses that have suffered a cyberattack could quickly expect to lose a significant percentage of their customers, pay regulatory fines, and even cease existing altogether.

Risks for small businesses include:

Phishing Attacks Phishing attacks are among the most common and effective methods cybercriminals use to breach small business systems.
Ransomware Ransomware attacks have become increasingly prevalent in recent years, targeting small businesses of all industries.
Weak Passwords Weak or easily guessable passwords invite cybercriminals to gain unauthorized access to small business systems.
Insider Threats While external threats often take the spotlight, insider threats also pose a significant risk to small businesses.
Lack of Employee Awareness Human error remains one of the most significant cybersecurity risks for small businesses.

The risks outlined above are just a few examples of the many cybersecurity threats that small businesses face.

By understanding these risks and implementing appropriate security measures, businesses can protect themselves from potential cyberattacks.

Establishing a Culture of Cybersecurity for Small Businesses

Establishing and maintaining best cybersecurity practices should be a top priority for small business owners, and this responsibility starts from the top management and trickles down to all stakeholders.

It is essential to gain buy-in from everyone involved. Additionally, leadership plays a crucial role in making decisions about the security solutions needed for the business.

With guidance from the security or IT team, business leaders can understand the specific security requirements of the company and what needs to be protected.

CEO Guidance

  • Establish a culture of security.
  • Select and support a security program manager.
  • Review and approve the Incident Response Plan.
  • Participate in tabletop exercise drills.
  • Support the security & IT leaders.

The Bottom Line

Remember, cybersecurity is not a one-time solution but an ongoing process that requires continuous monitoring and updating. Stay informed about the latest threats and best practices in the industry, and always prioritize the security of your business.


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John Meah
Cybersecurity Expert
John Meah
Cybersecurity Expert

John is a skilled freelance writer who combines his writing talent with his cybersecurity expertise. He holds an equivalent level 7 master's degree in cybersecurity and a number of prestigious industry certifications, such as PCIP, CISSP, MCIIS, and CCSK. He has spent over two decades working in IT and information security within the finance and logistics business sectors. This experience has given John a profound understanding of cybersecurity practices, making his tech coverage on Techopedia particularly insightful and valuable. He has honed his writing skills through courses from renowned institutions like the Guardian and Writers Bureau UK.