We live in an increasingly digital world. The pandemic served as a catalyst to our digital migration, forcing many individuals and businesses to interact through digital platforms. That means more information is flowing through our digital devices than ever before. It also means increased opportunity for cyber-attacks.
Cybercrime is predicted to inflict damages totaling $6 trillion in 2021 globally. Now more than ever, cybersecurity should be a priority. This holds especially true for small businesses.
In order to understand why cybersecurity is imperative, you must first understand how cyber threats can negatively affect your business. Cyber-attacks can:
- Cause financial loss
- Result in data breaches for both your business and your customers
- Ruin your reputation among customers
- Interrupt daily operations
By implementing cybersecurity measures, you can prevent fraudulent payments, data breaches and catastrophic financial hits to your business. Note that a majority of the time, money that is taken through cyber-attacks cannot be recovered.
In addition to potential financial loss, cyber-attacks can also damage your small business’s reputation among customers. Mishandling customers’ data can permanently and negatively impact the perception of your business, resulting in customers seeking services elsewhere.
While the damage from a cyber-attack can be catastrophic, small businesses still tend to overlook the threat. Cost is generally the biggest factor in small businesses overlooking cybersecurity. On top of that, small businesses do not truly understand the seriousness of the situation or they think it’s something that “could never happen to them.” Though it’s true cybersecurity can be costly, can you really put a price on protecting your small business and its customers from the potential harm of cyber-attacks?
Cost Effective Cybersecurity Solutions
Below are a few cost-effective tips that small businesses should use to protect themselves against serious cyber threats:
Routine Password Changes
Ensure that all of your passwords are changed on a routine basis. This is one of the most important things you can do in terms of cybersecurity. The good news is this can be done for little to no cost. We suggest changing your passwords on a quarterly basis and sticking to a schedule of routinely changing them. The best way to tackle routine password changes is to use built-in password management within your systems. That way its automatic and forces you to change it once the interval is hit. If your systems don’t have built-in password management, we recommend creating a recurring appointment on your calendar to serve as a reminder to change them quarterly.
It’s important to not to use the same password for everything, or to repeat a formerly used password. Cybersecurity is very often sacrificed for ease of use. So in general, just make sure that you are committing and following through. If it’s something you cannot automate, be sure that you are getting creative with your passwords using a combination of numbers, letters and characters.
“When people are drawing blanks trying to think of a new password, I usually suggest they use something that they’ve done recently or will be doing,” said Hayes Seymour, IT Director at Bowers & Company CPAs. “Going on a trip to Disneyland this year? A good password would be D!5n3y2021!!. By the time that expires and its time to change again, you’ll have something new you can create a password from.”
Consider Utilizing SaaS Platforms/Cloud Solutions
Software as a Service (SaaS) is a software delivery model in which a cloud-based software application is licensed to a user. The application is accessed via the internet and runs on the SaaS provider’s servers, making them responsible for the security, performance, and maintenance of it. Cloud Solutions offer on-demand availability of computer system resources like servers, storage, databases, networking, etc. It makes data centers available to many users over the internet.
By using SaaS platforms/cloud solutions, you don’t need to have and maintain your own IT infrastructure, outside of employee workstations. You can also take advantage of the robust security built into the systems of top providers. For example, rather than having your own email server in a closet that may or may not be getting security updates, Microsoft could host your email server and make the updates for you.
Turn On Automatic Updates
Make sure that you allow your software to update automatically as much as possible. Vendors release security updates regularly and unless it’s your full-time job to manage them, these updates will often get overlooked.
When running your small business, you will wear many different hats causing you to feel stretched thin. Even so, it can’t be stressed enough that cybersecurity should never be overlooked.
As previously mentioned, you can’t put a price on protecting your small business and customers from cyberattacks. Take the proper cybersecurity measures for your business – it all starts with a small investment of time, money and commitment. Start with these tips and you’ll be headed in the right direction to protect your small business from cyber threats.
Bowers & Company CPAs aims to offer helpful information to our clients and friends. Learn more about how we can help should your small business need accounting and financial services.
Disclaimer: To ensure compliance with requirements imposed by the Department of Treasury, we inform you any U.S. federal tax advice contained in this document or video is not intended for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code, or (ii) promoting, marketing, or recommending to another party any transaction or matter that is contained in this document.