Cybersecurity has become an issue for businesses and organizations at every level. And while the majority of corporate leaders understand the importance of combating against these rising cyber threats, there is still the issue of actually doing it. One of the worst mistakes a company can make at this point in time is to neglect the implementation of a strong cyber defense system.
Sometimes it’s easy for small-to-medium-sized businesses to assume that big data leaks only happen to large companies. But, as Forbes Contributor Kate Harrison recently pointed out, these organizations have just as much to worry about.
“Cyber criminals don’t discriminate,” SnoopWall Inc. Founder Gary Miliefsky explained to Harrison. “In
fact, cyber criminals find SMBs easier targets because their defenses are often not as advanced as those of larger businesses.”
The truth is that no organization is safe from the rapidly evolving and accumulating cyber threats. And, even if an organization is unsure on exactly what measures to take to protect their computer intelligence and information, the important thing is that they start somewhere.
Below are some of the most effective strategies and tips businesses can take to enhance their cybersecurity initiatives.
Cybersecurity should be a priority for all size companies.
1. Develop a formal plan of security
This should outline specific steps the organization plans to take to mitigate cyber threats, as well as an actionable plan of response in the event a digital disruption or security breach does occur. Also, businesses should make sure there are clear security policies and practices in place and that they are being adhered to – not just by employees, but by any suppliers and service providers in the network. Not all breaches are aggressive or planned. Some can simply happen as a mistake.
2. Protect all computer networks and applications
The rapid proliferation of digital devices, as well as a workforce becoming more mobile, is making it increasingly important that businesses ensure each channel of connectivity is safeguarded and password-protected with encryption. Companies should install antivirus and antispyware software and make sure they are regularly maintained and updated. In addition, a firewall should be set up to prevent outside parties from accessing the private network. The Wi-Fi network and Service Set Identifier, or SSID, should always be hidden and secured. “Not all cyber threats are external; some security breaches can be attributed to internal sources.”
3. Defend against both internal and external threats
When most people hear about security breaches or data leaks, they assume that incidents ‘happen’ due to outside sources, such as hackers. And many do. But not all are maliciously aggressive or pre-planned. Some can simply happen as a mistake – usually internally. ZDNet reported that 75 percent of large corporations recently experienced a security breach attributed to its workers. This error could have been prevented with more cybersecurity awareness. Also keep in mind that disgruntled employees may be a threat. Any time a worker leaves an organization, they shouldn’t do so still having access to pertinent information or sensitive materials.
4. Focus on hiring the right skills
There has been a lot of talk recently about the skills shortage in IT. Institutions at both the high school and college level could be doing a better job at informing and preparing students for careers in cybersecurity. But, as Adrian Davis recently pointed out in an article for ComputerWeekly, there are also a number of ways that businesses can – and should – help bridge the talent gap. Some suggestions the source highlighted included:
In recruitment, factor in non-IT related qualifications, such as communication and analytical skills
Eliminate hiring biases to create a more diverse workforce
Consider entry-level candidates and provide cybersecurity training experience, rather than expecting
applicants to have it all
Given the industry’s talent shortage, SMBs may not have the resources and manpower needed to compete with large corporations in recruiting top IT professionals. Fortunately, there are ways to work around it to enhance cybersecurity initiatives.
“Small businesses should bridge IT talent gap with cybersecurity training.”
5. Invest in cybersecurity training and education
As Davis suggested, organizations can fill the IT skills gap by increasing employees’ accessibility to cybersecurity education. As the Internet of Things evolves and companies continue to integrate digital processes and devices into everyday operations and processes, information security and computer protection is no longer an issue just for IT staff.
At The National Cybersecurity Institute, we help professionals at all levels, from every field, get the cybersecurity training and experience needed to improve the safety of its business. We even have a one-day specialized training course designed for SMB employees, the Cybersecurity for Small Business and Non-Profits. This class teaches workers what they need to know about securing information, identifying cyber threats and security risks, as well as how to safeguard the organization against attacks.
By providing staff with the skills and knowledge they need to both understand and excel in cybersecurity, business executives are making a worthwhile investment that will add both short and long term value to the company.
Learn more about protecting small businesses at the National Cybersecurity Institute.