By Guest Contributor: Lindsey Weiss
It seems like every other week a major corporation or organization is targeted by a data breach. But corporate CEOs aren’t the only ones who need to be worried about information security because the majority of online attacks actually target small businesses. So if you own a smaller company, here are some essential steps you need to take to keep your business protected.
Stay Connected to IT Professionals
Managing internet security in this age takes expertise and experience. You can hire a network security specialist to help protect your network. Another option is to find a hacker to attempt to penetrate your network to test its security so you know its weaknesses. You can hire ethical hackers through online job boards like Upwork.
If you do not have a dedicated IT specialist on your payroll, you may need a professional tech support service to help out with internet security tasks like recovering data after a breach or helping to set up security parameters for your small business. Data recovery experts can be especially helpful to have in your contact list, since you may need these sort of consultants to get your business operating again after a successful cyberattack. Without this sort of support, you could lose valuable productivity hours, or you could even lose your business.
Because owners do not act quickly or don’t create a data breach response plan, more than half of all small businesses affected by data breaches end up going out of business within six months. So if you want to keep your business from joining those ranks, you have to hire the right IT help, and you need a data recovery plan.
Stay Aware of All HIPAA Considerations
If your small business handles sensitive health information, part of your data security plan should include HIPAA compliance. In order for your small business to be compliant with HIPAA requirements, you must have security measures in place around your processes, and you also need the same security measures around your physical operations and virtual networks. These data security measures need to include clear standards regarding workstation access, electronic media usage, facility access, and proper auditing and tracking of all HIPAA-related activity involving your business software and hardware. You may be able to use the same IT support company to help get your company fully compliant with HIPAA regulations, but it also helps to be aware of common threats. Many of those data security threats can come from your own employees, who may be unaware that their actions could cost your business big time.
Stay Consistent With Data Breach Prevention
As with any catastrophe or costly mistake in small business, prevention should always be your first line of defense against data breaches and cyber attacks. Cyber security experts recommend that small business owners be diligent in keeping data breach prevention measures in place, and be consistent with all policies pertaining to information and internet access. Training all staff to exercise caution when using passwords or opening emails can prevent many attacks, but it’s also important for business owners to be aware of threats that are currently targeting small businesses. Mid- and smaller-sized businesses have most recently found themselves on the receiving end of phishing, malware, and password attacks, all of which can cause devastating data breaches and profit losses for companies of any size.
Stay Aware of Threats From Current and Past Employees
When you run a smaller company, your employees can fuel your success. Unfortunately, your employees can also be responsible for data breaches, especially if you do not put the protective measures listed above in place for your secure information and data systems. While cyber criminals are at the heart of most data breaches, simple mistakes made by employees have caused 32 percent of the most recent data and privacy breaches. Those small mistakes can include an employee sending sensitive information to the wrong recipient or unknowingly sharing private data with the public. While these may seem like small human errors, when they result in the loss of data and privacy, simple mistakes can result in huge consequences for businesses. Past employees can cause data breach problems as well, so stay aware of how information is protected after staff separations.
Preventing breaches is much easier than recovering from them. So make sure you have the right measures in place to protect your business. Because failing to protect your private data could end up costing your business, and even end up sinking it.