Cybercrime is on the rise. Whether you’re a small business or an expanding startup, setting up cyber security systems is imperative nowadays. Even if mainstream news tends to highlight breaches in large corporations and government institutions, 43% of hacking and data infringement happens to small and medium businesses.
Small businesses are particularly vulnerable to data breaches as many of them think they can’t afford or even need the security measures big corporations and governments use. But that is absolutely wrong and even dangerous for your business.
Noting that small businesses usually don’t know where to start when employing cyber security, Michael Kaisser of the National Cyber Security Alliance recommends starting where it’s relevant to you and your business.
Here is a step-by-step guide in setting up a cyber security system for your business:
Start with your internal system
Laying down multi-layered defense and plugging vulnerabilities should be your primary goal.
Update regularly. Maximize the security software natively installed in your system – computers, point-of-sale devices, and smart devices. Small scale attacks can be stopped by simply keeping your system up to date.
Secure your router. Infected routers accounted for three-quarters of attacks last year. A wireless internet connection is an open vulnerability so update the firmware regularly and switch to a WPA2 protocol immediately.
Limit access. Employees should be given definite and clear protocols when accessing devices and networks. Using strong passwords and regularly changing them can also help in avoiding attacks and intrusion.
Train personnel in cyber security. 9 out of 10 cyber attacks on businesses last year were phishing-related. Untrained employees and managers are the most vulnerable to emails and website pages with phishing forms and link an open door to hackers and malware infection.
Find solutions that fit your needs
Never assume that your data is safe. As many businesses nowadays have multiple online components they also need more than one cyber security solution to cover a wide range of threats. Vizaca notes that an evaluation strategy should look beyond the apparent short-term aspects of the business. A clear assessment should be done to choose the appropriate cyber security solutions and IT infrastructures your business needs. In Business News Daily’s list of 14 small business friendly cyber security solutions they detail how many security providers are affordable and will cover all bases. Companies should take these into consideration when choosing a solution.
But how do you choose a solution?
Scalability. If you’re a small startup trying to double your size, your infrastructure should match your projected growth. This means you need to avoid unexpected security-related issues that might impede your growth. Cloud-based solutions offer scalable and expandable services that are often cheaper. Most cloud-based solutions also offer extra services like cloud storage and secure cloud computing.
Remote Data Access. If you have employees working remotely or have offices in different locations, you should look for solutions that secure access to data like Network Access Control solutions or Virtual Privacy Network (VPN) solutions. The very nature of accessing data from different geolocations is a huge data breach vulnerability you need to plug.
Ensure data law compliance
Cyber security laws are also becoming more stringent as cyber crimes and issues of data privacy become more relevant. Making sure your business complies with data laws and regulations is also a part of securing your business.
International standards. The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, enforced last year, introduced strict and clear guidelines on how companies handle their costumers’ data – prioritizing consent and transparency. This gave consumers unprecedented control over the data being collected from them. Those who fail to meet these standards will get more than a simple slap on the wrist, non-compliant businesses can be fined up to 4% of their total annual turnover.
Other countries are following suit with the UK enforcing its Data Protection Act and the United States doing the same with its Privacy Act. While fines are only enforceable for businesses operating in their countries, tech giants like Google, Microsoft, and Amazon are implementing the regulations in all parts of the world.
Regional and local standards. In the Asia Pacific, the APEC Privacy Framework and its successor APEC Cross Border Privacy Rules (CBPR) are gaining momentum as countries are ratifying local laws tailored to its contents to gain certification. CBPR regulates cross border flows of data including payments, cloud computing, borderless transactions, and mobile commerce.
Rules-based compliance. Assessing your business’ means of collection and purpose of processing is a great place to start. In a cyber security guide they published last year, Hogan Lovells recommended that businesses with regional footprints should tackle data law compliance from a regional perspective. They denoted that appointing a Data Protection Officer is fast becoming one of the best practices in the Asia Pacific region. A post by Special Counsel on legal consulting details that it is vital to consult legal specialists when building an IT infrastructure for your business because the process also involves data protection laws and regulations. Engaging with the right experts can also create a more streamlined approach to regulation.
Regular threat assessments and recalibrating your cyber security plan are some of the best ways to avoid cyber attacks and huge fines in non-compliance. And you should start today.