Even for the smallest of businesses, cyber security is something owners need to keep a prudent eye on. Large businesses often have the benefit of a qualified team dedicated to ensuring their safety measures are robust.
If you're a small business with a handful of employees, you might not think you'd be a target of a cyber attack. Unfortunately small to medium-sized businesses are often more attractive to cyber criminals and hackers specifically because these businesses are less likely to have security measures in place.
The good news is, you can protect yourself from potentially debilitating cyber attacks by being informed and following certain rules.
As a business owner, start by asking yourself these questions:
- Can my business afford a cyber security incident?
- How long could I survive without access to my computer systems?
- Do I have insurance in place if something goes wrong?
WATCH: Ryan Smith, Manager of IT and Cybersecurity for Valley First's parent company, First West Credit Union, shares some useful tips on how to keep your business cyber safe.
Being cyber secure means more than just having backups of your files. Take a look at our top 3 rules of maintaining a healthy relationship with cyber security.
RULE #1: Build a positive cyber security culture within your organization
With knowledge comes power. When your employees understand what can happen if they don't follow certain safety procedures, they're more likely to adhere to best practices.
Empower them with the tools they need to best avoid cybercrime and they will feel accountable to hold up the processes. It doesn’t take a lot of time to explain the importance of following the key actions; you can easily add these notes into a regular meeting. Just keep reminding everyone to be vigilant and keep cyber security top-of-mind.
Educate your employees not only on what to do, but what NOT to do. Risky behaviour is what most often opens up a business to a cyber attack. Cyber criminals are looking for openings and vulnerabilities, not walls to knock down.
You can also make your cyber culture a fun way to interact with your employees. It doesn’t have to be all about evil lurking around the corner.
RULE #2: Hire an IT professional you can trust
Your younger cousin may be “great with computers” but are they an IT professional? Would they understand the intricacies of avoiding — or dismantling — an actual cyber attack? Do they know how to properly set up and maintain a firewall?
There are reasons why professionals are professionals. In the case of cyber security, these trained experts understand the minutiae of what needs to be done and the culture behind cybercrime.
IT professionals are able to evolve with the industry, and have up-to-date knowledge of the trends and, more importantly, the threats that exist in the world of cybercrime. They are able to solve problems the majority of people wouldn’t know where to start. Understanding technology isn’t exactly common sense. You need to know what you are doing.
There is constant maintenance to be done on systems, software, and hardware in order to keep your technology healthy and secure. Leave these tasks in the hands of someone who knows what they are doing.
And don’t be shy to ask questions: a good IT professional will have the communication skills to be able to explain, in plain language, what they are doing, and why they are doing it. After all, it’s your business, you should know what is going on.
EXPERT TIP: Does your business rely solely on technology? It is a good idea to have a third-party IT professional come and assess how vulnerable your systems are to an attack. This isn’t anything against your in-house IT person, it’s just that a second set of eyes may see things someone else hasn’t. Ultimately, it is all about covering your bases.
RULE #3: Keep software up-to-date
This may not sound like a big issue but don’t underestimate the importance of keeping all of the software on your computers, servers, devices, phones, tablets — you name it — up-to-date.
Technology companies are constantly updating their operating systems and software in order to stay ahead of fraudulent activity.
Be sure to stay up-to-date in order to make yourself less susceptible to a crime. You can set up alerts that will automatically let you know when the newest software has been released — take advantage of these reminders. This is the equivalent of double-checking that the door is locked when you leave the house.
Most importantly, be prudent, stay aware, and keep cyber security top of mind!
Further Reading: The Ultimate Guide To Starting Your Business in B.C.