What You Need to Know:
In addition to all the concerns small business owners have with running their organization, they also have an acute awareness that their decisions can directly impact the livelihood of their employees and the needs of their customers. If you are a business owner, you probably know how important planning can be to help you recognize risks, understand challenges and take the steps needed to succeed.
Given the data-driven nature of today’s business landscape, data protection has become an important component in business planning.
Instead of speculating about the issues that might come your way, learning from others provides real-world insights into the challenges you may face. Let’s review some of the common data protection issues businesses handle so you can tackle them with greater confidence.
Know your competition
In business, you’re not just competing with other organizations in your industry. You’re competing with fraudsters who are trying to profit from your success. They’re looking for business data, customer information and even your personal information — all of which can be traded and sold for profit.
While some small and medium-sized business (SMB) owners might think they are too small to be targeted by cybercriminals, the reality is no organization is too small. Advances in automation mean it is just as effective for attackers to target multiple small businesses as it is for them to try hacking into a large corporation — especially since that large company likely has a bigger cybersecurity budget and a team of specialists.
For SMBs, many cybersecurity pundits say it’s not a question of if you’ll be attacked but when you’ll be attacked. In 2021, Verizon noted that 28% of breach victims were small businesses. And the cost to small businesses continues to rise: The cost of a cyberattack increased 26.8% in 2021 over the previous year.
There are many access points to your business information — company devices, employees’ personal devices, vendor systems and customers’ email. If an intruder can open one of those doors, you could have a breach on your hands.
Some of the vulnerabilities cybercriminals try to exploit include:
- Phishing emails | Designed to trick the reader into opening an infected attachment or clicking on a malicious link, these emails continue to deluge businesses — with an estimated 3 billion phishing emails being sent every day.
- Unencrypted devices or data | Encrypted information is of little value to criminals if they do get a hold of it, which is why encrypting data that’s transmitted on Wi-Fi, mobile and other networks is considered a cybersecurity best practice.
- Password practices | As the first line of defense for your system, passwords should be strong, long and unique for every device and account. Yet while 92% of those surveyed say they know the risks of reusing the same password for accounts, 65% admitted to doing it anyway.
- Remote and BYOD risks | The last few years have expanded acceptance of both remote work and “Bring Your Own Device” policies. When employees access business files using personal devices and home networks outside of the company’s defenses, the risk of compromise can increase.
Turn weaknesses into strengths
Being aware that your business is a target of cybercrimes can be a great motivator for instituting better controls. Educating yourself, your employees, your vendors and your customers can help clarify the role each plays in securing personal and business data.
Here’s how to help close the door on compromise (and spread the word):
- Learn to spot a phishing email.
- Encrypt all devices, networks and stored data.
- Create top-notch passwords with these expert password tips.
- Make sure you have secure BYOD and remote work policies in place.
- Update software when security patches are released.
- Only connect via secure, password-protected Wi-Fi.
- Stay up to date with the latest threats, breaches and scams — and strategies for avoiding them — with Sontiq’s Resource Center.
Business planning in today’s digital world means taking steps to safeguard the information of your company, employees and customers. Make sure that data protection is a regular part of your business plan.