The start of a new year, after the general upheaval that is almost always associated with the festive season, is one of few times when the decision makers of any small business can take a breath and think about the big picture. It is when most managers and business owners devise sales or production strategies for the 12 months ahead, as well as analysing and scrutinising how the business did in the year just past.
That means that profit and loss accounts, operating costs and maybe even staff salaries are likely to be foremost in those decision makers’ minds, but one thing which no small business can afford to let slip between the cracks is the issue of cyber-security – especially not in 2016.
A recent survey from the United States after all, revealed that the average cost for a small business of recovering from a security breach is approximately $38,000, which equates to a hefty £26,700. The US Department of Homeland Security too, have reported that close to 1/3 of all cyber-attacks are targeted at firms with less than 250 employees.
Those studies may both be out of the United States but such stats and trends are likely to be true worldwide, and especially in similarly developed economies like the UK. That therefore, should serve to focus the mind of any small business owner and in order to stay on top of cyber-security in 2016 there are three key areas which they should consider.
It is generally believed that the 31% of cyber-attacks that the US Department of Homeland Security reported as aimed at small business is only set to rise in 2016, due to a couple of compelling reasons why hackers are likely to continue choosing those targets. Whereas the biggest companies tend to have expensive security after all, small businesses tend to represent comparatively easier prey for cyber-criminals. What’s more, a security breach of a small business can on occasion give a hacker access to a bigger firm with whom that company may do business.
Smaller businesses then, must optimise their cyber-security to the best of their ability and one notable way to do this is by adopting a multi-layered approach. That means not simply relying on one security mechanism but combining a collection of them in tandem, such us anti-virus software, firewalls, network monitoring tools and back up processes.
Intelligent Cloud Adoption
Going into 2016, a small business may well have just entered, or just be considering entering, the world of cloud computing. This makes sense given the storage, accessibility, cost and collaborative benefits that cloud storage and other similar services can provide, but is still something which must be undertaken with eyes wide open in terms of security.
That means that a small business must take pains to understand the different implications of hybrid, public and private clouds, especially in terms of security, or to find a trusted provider who can walk them through those types of decision. Equally important too, a small business shouldn’t think that they can neglect processes like backing up crucial information, just because they have taken the option of cloud storage.
Small business owners and managers never really turn off and it is becoming an increasing trend for them to use smartphones or tablets to stay connected and keep working around the clock and on the move. That is great for efficiency and productivity but mobile devices are still typically more vulnerable to cyberattack than desktop PCs or laptops.
A small business then – especially one which allows or encourages staff to use mobile devices for work too – should consider developing a policy for secure use of mobile devices to educate those staff of best practices and adopting such security measures as encryption of data transferred between company networks and mobile devices.