Although cyber security is a constant buzzword in headlines and news reports on a near daily basis, many small business owners are not taking steps to secure their e-commerce or online business operations. A 2012 study found that 87% of U.S. small businesses do not have a formal written Internet security policy for employees, and nearly 60% do not have a contingency plan outlining procedures for responding and reporting data breach losses.
These are grave statistics that can cost business owners dearly – both in terms of financial impact and consumer confidence in their companies. To put a figure on it, the British insurance company Lloyd’s estimates that cyber attacks cost businesses as much as $400 billion a year! Business leaders can literally no longer afford to postpone integrating cyber security into their workplace culture and daily operations.
National Cyber Security Month, commemorated annually in October, is the perfect opportunity to take stock of your company’s online and network risk exposure. It may seem like a daunting task to get started, but there are small and measurable ways you can start to make large improvements to your company’s cyber security. Here are a few ways to get started:
- Develop clear policies and procedures: Every office needs to outline what constitutes “acceptable use” for all office technology (computers, mobile devices, networks and personal devices). Don’t forget to cover remote access and connectivity, as many employees are working from home or on the go. Setting limitations to the type of business conducted remotely and requiring adjusted device settings can help mitigate the risk.
- Empower employees: It is not enough to simply get employee sign-off on the IT policies you develop; business owners must enlist employees as partners in the fight against cyber attacks. Cyber Security Month is a great time to get started, but make it a year-round effort to keep your employees up to date and educated on ways they can help keep the workplace secure, such as not clicking suspicious emails and keeping passwords strong and confidential.
- Defend your equipment: There are millions of viruses and threats clawing at the doors of your network every day. Bolster your perimeter by installing anti-virus software that will protect your machines from malware, viruses and infections. Keep this software current by automating updates, but don’t forget to check in occasionally to make sure everything is working as it should.
- Secure vendor relationships: Whether on a large or small scale, chances are your company’s information winds up on the hands of an outside vendor at some point. Don’t overlook this aspect of your operations when working to secure your data. Take an active role in ensuring your vendors and partners are as committed to security as you are. One of the easiest ways to do this with new vendors is to incorporate it into contract negotiations. For existing partners, however, it is important to have an honest, detailed discussion of their policies to ensure you are on the same page.
With proper planning, teamwork and execution, your business can become more secure against cyber threats. RKL’s information technology subsidiary, RKL eSolutions, helps clients in a wide range of industries implement network and information systems infrastructure with an eye to security and accuracy. Contact RKL eSolutions today to find out how they can help your business tackle its IT challenges.
Contributed by Walt Goodfield, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for RKL eSolutions. Walt is responsible for driving revenue growth through customer acquisition and strategic business partner alliances. He has over 20 years’ experience selling, implementing and supporting ERP software.