How to Make Cybersecurity Part of Your Business Plan
The modern marketplace has increasingly shifted toward the internet, which is great for online retailers and businesses. Unfortunately, however, cybercrime has exploded in recent years, and it isn't just large corporations feeling the heat. More than 60 percent of online attacks target small and midsized businesses. To prepare and guard against this new reality, consider the following cybersecurity measures:
Secure Existing Systems
Cybersecurity should begin by securing the existing systems your business relies on. In particular, this includes wireless networks, computers and other hardware. Be sure to secure and encrypt your Wi-Fi networks and disable broadcasting of Service Set Identifiers (SSIDs) over the open air. Require the use of strong, secure passwords and individual user accounts for each computer and each employee, and implement a centralized device management strategy to control access and permissions.
No matter what steps you take, your cybersecurity plan is ultimately only as strong as the people who make it happen. It's essential that your business plan accounts for training employees and keeping them engaged in your overall security strategy. In fact, credit card fraud is particularly targeted toward small businesses in large part because many employees lack the security training often given to employees of large corporations. Ensure that your employees are given the training and tools needed to assess, identify and respond to potential security threats.
Set Up Firewalls
While employee training and device management help to limit the risk from within your business, firewalls are critical for preventing intrusions from the outside. Your networks should always be secured behind properly configured firewalls to lock down unauthorized access. If your employees conduct any business from remote locations, they should also be protected by a firewall. Consider also incorporating both a centralized hardware firewall and software firewalls for each device.
Opt for Always-On SSL
Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) is an essential technology for internet security and it offers several benefits. SSL provides an encrypted connection between your website and your customers, and it also serves as an authentication to verify that visitors are connected to the right servers. Unfortunately, many websites use SSL only on login and checkout pages. While this helps to limit threats during transactions, it leaves the rest of the website vulnerable to attack. Always-On SSL (AOSSL) incorporates SSL on every page, providing much broader protection and making your site more trustworthy to consumers.
Protect Against Ransomware
One of the most common threats small businesses face today is ransomware, which works by accessing a company's data, encrypting it and holding it for ransom. Depending on the value and importance of the data, this threat can be devastating. Unfortunately, there aren't many good options for dealing with ransomware once it's been deployed, making prevention vital. Implementing good security protocols and locking down your network is essential, but it's also important to back up all of your sensitive data.
Develop a Disaster Recovery Plan
Your business plan should include clear strategies for preventing and mitigating cybersecurity attacks, but it's also important to recognize that no security plan is bulletproof. That's why a disaster recovery plan should be an essential part of your security efforts. Should an attack ever take place, a clear plan for identifying the threat, responding appropriately and taking steps to correct any damage may be the difference between an inconvenience and a crisis.
A cyberattack can expose customer data, cost potentially millions of dollars, and destroy a company's public image and trustworthiness. By working the key elements above into your overall business plan, you can feel more confident knowing that your company and its data are well protected.
Maricel Tabalba is a freelance contributor for Credit.com who is interested in writing about personal finance advice for millennials and college students.
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