When cybersecurity breaches hit major corporations, like Yahoo or Experian, it’s easy to wonder how secure your small business’s info really is as you reset yet another password. If you own or work for a small or midsize company, data protection is no less critical than it is for the big dogs. In fact, the majority of all cyberattacks are against small and midsize businesses. Threats like ransomware (Trojan viruses that lock down a computer until the user pays to release it) and business email compromises (think “Nigerian prince scheme,” but more sophisticated) cost companies millions each year in lost dollars, data, and downtime.
Here’s What You Need to Know About Locking Down Your Company’s Biggest Asset
According to Michael Markulec, partner at Harbor Technology Group in Pennington, New Jersey, businesses of any size need three core technology protections to secure their data.
1. A firewall
This separates your company’s data from the outside world. Markulec says the type of firewall you need and the protection it offers depend on the type of business you run and what you’re trying to protect.
2. End-point protection
(formerly known as antivirus or malware protection). This software detects, stops, and cleans up after malicious intruders.
3. Data backup
Companies need a data backup plan in case disaster strikes.
“Doing all three of those things, along with employee awareness training, will mean you’re better off than 90 percent of all small businesses out there,” says Markulec. “This is not a game about being the fastest cheetah; it’s about being safer than all of the other cheetahs.”
That employee awareness piece is a fourth cybersecurity element that’s even more crucial than the technology component. “People are vulnerable,” says Markulec. “Ninety percent of all cyberbreaches start with a human doing something wrong.” This makes employee training on cybersecurity a must.
Staff should know what to click on and what not to click on, and how to protect their passwords and data–what Markulec calls, “being a good Internet citizen.” Companies should also implement policies covering the secure use of mobile phones, laptops, and tablets. Most manufacturers, like Lenovo, offer comprehensive end-to-end security offerings. Lenovo’s priority is protecting businesses with each product, from development through the disposal. This level of commitment to a full portfolio of security offerings empowers companies to focus on their unique offerings without constant worry about security issues.
Cyber threats are such a constant in our technocentric culture that companies recently started adding chief security officers to their C-suite management teams. However, hiring a full-time security chief isn’t necessarily in the budget for a small or midsize company. Enter the executive-for-hire, who’s like an attorney who works on a part-time basis. Cybersecurity firms, like Harbor Technology, provide CSO services to their clients, offering ongoing and as-needed support to smaller companies. “It becomes an extension of your management team, but on a fractional basis,” says Markulec.
While it’s tempting to think you can figure these things out on your own, it’s better to work with a cybersecurity firm to ensure you have the best safeguards in place. A good firm will learn about your company’s individual needs—what kind of data you have, how you’re currently protecting it, whether any regulations determine security protocols—and make recommendations based on those needs.
Cybersecurity firms also offer employee training, featuring things like simulated phishing emails and short interactive training videos for staff. Getting expert cybersecurity guidance frees up time to do the work you do best while knowing your data and equipment are safe from cyberattacks. Markulec likens a security breach to a natural disaster or a sales rep losing a laptop: “It doesn’t happen every day, but when it does, it can be catastrophic to your business.”
You don’t have time for catastrophes. You’re out there trying to make a difference, to innovate, and to succeed. Securing your company’s data lets you focus on being a difference-maker instead of spending precious time scrambling to recover from a breach.
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This content was co-produced by Lenovo and Inc. and originally appeared on inc.com.