With GDPR on the horizon later this month and the number of breaches increasing, it's time SMEs take cybersecurity seriously
No business wants to see its name in the headlines when the next cyber breach story breaks. Unfortunately, no company, regardless of its size, is immune from being targeted.
That’s why practical steps need to be taken by every organisation to reduce its vulnerability, like keeping up to date with software patches, using encryption tools and employing a system of network privileges to limit data access.
However, without a company-wide understanding of cyber security, these efforts will not be totally effective. Here’s the low down in four simple steps on how you can build a culture of cyber-safety to keep both your data and your business’s reputation safe.
Make sure it's all aboard from here on
The latest government statistics show three-quarters of UK businesses believe cybersecurity is a high priority. However, the job usually falls on the shoulders of IT managers.
Cybersecurity isn’t just an IT department thing; it’s everyone’s responsibility across the business. Culture is the operating system of every organisation, so having total employee buy-in is essential to reduce vulnerabilities.
Once you understand your attack surface and have multi-layered security protections in place, making sure all employees stick to the rules is vital.
Regular training from in-house or external experts is a must but ensure you break it down into chunks and avoid using technical acronyms to prevent employees feeling overwhelmed. Try to make the training relevant to their lives outside of the organisation: showing how do they can use this knowledge to protect their own online lives will resonate far better. Consider supplementing training with realistic phishing simulations which will prepare users for the most common attack they’ll experience.
Create reliable processes
With the General Data Protection Regulation’s (GDPR) deadline fast approaching on Friday May 25, it’s important security and privacy is at the heart of all internal processes. This can be tricky in today’s borderless world as it’s now the norm for employees to connect personal devices to corporate networks and use company-issued mobiles or laptops for remote working and personal use.
Drawing up a set of guidelines, which employees know to follow, across all devices can improve self-management, promote accountability and strengthen protection against external attacks.
Don’t forget your external partners
Once your own internal systems are secure, you should turn your attention to external partners. For existing affiliates, ask if they can share information about their own security and privacy policies.
As we collaborate with business partners, we need to understand the threats to their environment and how they manage risk to establish how we can defend ourselves.
Each partner in a value chain needs to protect information to an appropriate level to give protections to all; the weakest link in the chain can break everyone’s defences.
When forming new partnerships, make cybersecurity a central part of the decision and contract signing process.
Involve your customers
With recent high-profile data leaks making the headlines, the public is increasingly wary about who has access to their data, how it’s being used and how well it’s being protected.
Transparency is key. Make sure to inform and involve customers as much as possible about your cybersecurity policies to help build trust and remain competitive.
If a data breach does occur, it’s crucial every business has a protocol for notifying customers about its nature, what information may be missing and what actions you all need to take to limit the potential damage.
Why is it important small businesses take cyber security seriously?
Allianz, the global insurance company, recently identified cyber incidents as one of the top risks facing SMEs today. However, cyber safety should be at the core of every organisation, big or small.
The consequences for SMEs who experience a data breach can be hugely damaging: crippling financial losses, a marred reputation and possible legal penalties, which are set to increase when GDPR kicks in later this month.
All workers have a role to play in the success or failure of a business and this principle extends to cyber security too. Employees are your first line of defence, so make sure all staff are equipped with the skills and resources needed to fulfil this important role.