Think about it. Just because you have a small business, doesn’t mean that you do not have to worry about cyberattacks. In fact, small businesses could be more vulnerable to cybercrime because of the lack of needed resources. According to the report by Ponemon Institute on the ‘State of Cybersecurity in Small & Medium Size Businesses in 2019’, 66% of small enterprises said that they have been the targets of cyberattacks in the past year itself. With the increase in the formula of remote work in 2021 due to the pandemic, businesses of all sizes are pretty much susceptible to cyber threats. With employees working on clouds, off the network, and with apps that aren’t sanctioned by your IT staff, the risks of cyberattacks are always high. And these attacks can really damage your system.
Most entrepreneurs feel that for the hackers, prominent targets are big businesses and government organizations. However, as much as these options look lucrative, they are exceptionally difficult to target because of their highly secured networks. In reality, the hackers practice their work by attacking the low-hanging fruits at first, i.e., the small businesses. Why? These businesses often represent the best of both worlds. They have the best of data and money, and hence, they are the most potential targets.
Cyberattack Worries for Small Businesses in Canada at a Glance
The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed several small businesses in Canada to switch to remote work. This has, in turn, made these companies more susceptible to cyberattacks. Here are a few statistics to keep in mind:
· More than 63% of Canadian enterprises have reported an increase in cyber threats in the last 18 months.
· A report by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business stated that out of 3040 members, more than a quarter experienced cyberattacks since March 2020.
· The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) Ledger Poll specified that one in five businesses in the poll, i.e., around 18%, have been severely affected by data breaches or cyberattacks in the last two years.
As much as these statistics are alarming for the small business owners in Canada, there are still a few ways that can keep businesses away from the risk of cyberattacks. What are they? Let’s find out below.
1. Train Your Employees
Industry research shows that most cybersecurity breaches happen because of the carelessness of the workers in the workplace. This is because no amount of technology can totally protect your data or network if people using them do not have any idea about the same. Humans are the ‘weak link’ in matters of IT security. So, if you can train your workers better from the very beginning, you will be able to build a good barrier against security attacks.
2. Safeguard the Credentials of Data Accesses
It is imperative on your part to have an access control strategy for your small business. You should be the one determining who will have access to what kinds of data in your company. Also, make sure that the credentials of each one of your employees are protected. Implement regular password management and educate your workers about the need for strong passwords which aren’t easily accessible to hackers.
3. Keep Multiple Backups
As a business owner, it is always a good idea to have multiple backups of all your important company data. This way, even if you fall prey to a ransomware attack or some kind of data breach, you will still have a solid backup plan. Including cloud backup is a good idea here. The world is moving to the clouds and every small business should start working on the same.
4. Ensure Regular Network and Device Updates
Even though we underestimate these well enough, updating and upgrading your company devices and networks could be the best strategy to improve your business’s cybersecurity. You need to committedly update the technological tools that you are using. Developers and programmers should always be on the lookout for new threats and as soon as they can smell one, they should typically issue a patch to form a guard against it. Too many businesses do not pay heed to update their devices and software which makes them all the more vulnerable to cyberthreats.
5. Formulate an Incident Response Plan
Prevention is essential to keep cyber threats at a distance. However, you cannot really ignore the other very important component – the incident response plan. Each and every business, big or small, should have an incident response plan which can outline the steps to take when there’s a breach. Without this plan, it could be hard to minimize the damage caused by a cyber threat. Some malware bugs spread at lightning-fast speed once the network is breached. So, the reaction time is crucial. Trying to look for a response plan once the incident has already occurred would be too late.
6. Promote a Security-conscious Culture
Although business owners do not think about it much, having a security-conscious culture within your company is essential. Cybersecurity should top the list on your company’s policy as just a single breach can cost you millions of dollars. So, it shouldn’t be only the job of the IT department to be conscious of the threats but all your departments should be well-equipped with the possibilities and results of a cyberthreat. Only when you all will walk towards a single goal, as a family, will you have a higher rate of success in negating such breaches in your business.
Wrapping it up,
Small business owners are not exactly ignorant about cyberattacks, however, they do not really know how to safeguard their companies from such threats either. Not having proper infrastructure and knowledge regarding such attacks often lead to severe damages if and when such breaches occur. By following the above-mentioned points, entrepreneurs in Canada can very well maintain a secure work environment, even for their remote employees.
To learn more about such essential tips on carrying out your small business effectively in Canada, do not forget to subscribe to the CanadianSME Small Business Monthly Magazine.