Small businesses need cyber security, too

Small businesses need cyber security, too
August 15, 2016  |  BY

When we hear about security breaches on the news, it’s always about a disaster at a big enterprise. Target, Walmart and Home Depot are just some of the major players that have dealt with the damage and public scrutiny that results from cybercrime.

Owners of small and medium-sized businesses may sit back and think, “Good thing we won’t have that problem.” Unfortunately, Internet criminals don’t discriminate. Customer data and credit card numbers are equally valuable whether they come from an international retailer or a local swimming pool cleaning service.

Still, I wonder if these business people are aware of the very real threat to their livelihoods. And I wonder if they have any type of defense for their networks.

To take the examination even further: The men and women who run small and medium-sized businesses may indeed recognize how they can lose money due to a security breach. But how many ponder the fact that they can be sued by a customer – or a group of customers?

The reality is that if you keep customer data, you may be legally responsible if someone steals that data. It’s called negligence, and smart business people will take proactive measures to avoid litigation.

So what should you do to protect your customers and your business?

Hire an expert
You probably use accountants and other professionals to help run a smooth, profitable operation. Do the same with cyber security. Ask around to find a local vendor that can set up data protection systems, install security technology, and perform ongoing monitoring of your network.

Cover the basics
You vendor will no doubt provide consulting for security options. When going over the choices, be sure to ask about a firewall, anti-virus software and patch management. At the very least you need to start with these three security elements.

Make a plan
We assume you have a business plan, so be sure to have a security plan. This means knowing what actions to take if there’s a security breach. Your plan can include what technology updates you would need, where and how to look for the culprits, and how to communicate with your customers. Again, look to your vendor for guidance.

 Make sense of your data
You might have a lot of data, both for your business and for your customers, that’s not exactly organized in the best fashion. You never want to be involved in a legal matter, but it’s good to be prepared just in case. By consolidated it and using automation, you can transform large amounts of disparate data into logical sets of information.

When you run a small or medium-sized business, there are only so many tasks you can complete in a day. Internet security is not something that can wait until tomorrow. Your entire business in on the line.