Cybersecurity for Your Small Business: Implementing Protocols Without the Paranoia

by / ⠀Entrepreneurship Startup Advice / May 24, 2021
Cybersecurity for your small business is a must-have, but it's possible to implement strong countermeasures without becoming paranoid.

Cybersecurity statistics can be alarming, especially statistics that indicate nearly half of all cyberattacks target small businesses. With all the recent data breaches and ransomware attacks in the news, it’s easy to develop a fearful mindset.

While cyberattacks are often destructive, they don’t need to be devastating. For example, there are ways to ensure you never have to think about paying a ransom after a ransomware attack. It’s equally possible to keep your data so secure that even a data breach won’t create excessively negative consequences. When safeguarding your business with cybersecurity protocols, it’s vital to consider implementing a robust security system.

Before allowing yourself to become paranoid, implement a few simple approaches to your small business cybersecurity protocols. With a few well-designed guidelines in place, you won’t have to worry so much.

1. Implement strict access control.

Poorly configured access controls cause many, perhaps most, data breaches. For example, when you’re collaborating on a Google document stored in the cloud, not restricting access to each document can result in a data breach. Worse, your files might be discoverable through a simple search on Google.

Just like Google Drive, you will need to set access permissions for files hosted on other cloud storage platforms such as Box. This is especially important when using Box for sending large files. For example, you might end up sending a link through email. However, any unsecured files will be fully accessible to the public if that email falls into the wrong hands.

2. Create a simple, easy-to-follow cybersecurity policy.

Employees don’t like following complicated cybersecurity protocols, and no one is able to follow rules they do not fully understand. Complicated cybersecurity guidelines are even less likely to be followed when employees use their own devices for work.

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Every change they need to make to their routine will be perceived as an inconvenience. Employees frequently find ways to get around complex cybersecurity policies that slow them down. For example, many employees detest password policies that require creating complex passwords that have to be changed every three months. Strong passwords are a critical security component. However, complex rules can be eliminated through the use of multi-factor authentication and password managers.

Multi-factor authentication ensures that only authorized parties gain access to the account. Password managers — managed locally, not in the cloud — are a safe way to automatically fill in passwords not committed to memory.

3. Enforce your cybersecurity protocols.

Enforce all of your cybersecurity policies to the letter. Don’t make any exceptions.

For example, if you’ve already explained to employees that sharing login information will result in termination, you will need to follow through. You do not want your employees to decide for themselves that cybersecurity is no big deal. Internal threats accounted for 34% of breaches in 2018. Don’t give anyone the impression that they might get a second chance.

Employees looking for an opportunity to steal or expose company data will breach small protocols to accomplish their goals. For instance, they’ll ask a coworker to borrow their login credentials if they have higher permissions. If you don’t fire someone for sharing login credentials, your insider threats will immediately identify that same action as a means to their end. It is important to prevent credential stuffing breaches.

4. Implement secure BYOD policies.

There was a time when it was unheard of to allow employees to use their own devices for work. However, that was before cellphones became pocket-sized computers and nearly everyone had a laptop.

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Today, work arrangements are more fluid and many people use a personal laptop or mobile device for work. People prefer using their own devices since familiarity breeds productivity. However, personal devices can also be a high-security risk.

You can secure personal devices used for work purposes. Sam Liu, an expert in cloud technology, says a BYOD-friendly security strategy that doesn’t hinder productivity is possible with using third-party mobile device management (MDM) solutions. The key to making MDM solutions less cumbersome is to only use the features that affect company data. Common examples include managing how files are downloaded, copied, and exported. Liu also says you’ll need to have a way to remotely wipe a stolen device without affecting personal data.

Prioritize cybersecurity protocols and you’ll have no reason to panic.

Cybersecurity is a big threat, especially in our new age of remote workers. However, it’s not that scary when you’ve taken the time to implement strong security and follow through with policy enforcement.

The people who panic after a cyberattack tend to be the same people who don’t have a business continuity plan, don’t perform regular backups, and skipped security measures to save a few bucks. That doesn’t have to be your experience. Prioritize security and you’ll be more likely to quickly recover from any cyberattack.

About The Author

Kimberly Zhang

Editor in Chief of Under30CEO. I have a passion for helping educate the next generation of leaders.