Three simple steps to protecting your small business
Continued news reports of large-scale data breaches and the steady increase of cyber fraud like spam calls, identity fraud and unauthorized account access should be enough to scare anyone. So-called nation-state hackers attempting to infiltrate government entities and universities, massive data breaches, and new Ransomware threats are constantly in the headlines. So why doesn’t this encourage more small business owners to take cybersecurity more seriously?
Many small businesses are currently going digital and moving data, applications and services to the cloud. In fact, the most innovative small businesses have embraced digital transformation as an integral part of their growth plans. This evolution makes their business more vulnerable to a lurking hacker. And perhaps too trustingly, many small business owners think that because of their size, they are not a target. Hackers don’t discriminate. Malware doesn’t discriminate. Everyone is a target, and in fact, hackers see the data that small businesses have as a gateway to attacking larger businesses. And Malware essentially looks for open doors (i.e. unpatched machines) to infect.
As we look to the start of a new year, there is no better time to assess your business’s cybersecurity posture – or in some cases start from scratch – to ensure you are prepared and can respond to cyberattacks. Here are a few affordable and simple recommendations that can improve your cybersecurity posture and help protect your business from the inevitability of a cyberattack in 2019:
- Stay Aware: The simplest thing you can do is to stay current on trends and threats affecting small businesses. We’ve seen unprecedented levels of attacks on small business in 2018, especially with Ransomware (where your device is essentially taken hostage for a fee). It’s essential to understand the types of attacks that could put your business at risk as well as the current cybersecurity landscape. Visit AT&T Cyber Aware for the latest news, information to report fraud associated with your AT&T Business account.
- Hire a consultant: A consultant can take a holistic look at your business, identify the gaps and help you understand how to improve your cybersecurity posture. While some see consultants as an added expense, their role is essential for small businesses that don’t have an IT or cybersecurity expert on staff. A consultant can help you develop and implement a plan for monitoring for threats, incident response and remediation that’s within your budget.
- Buy Cyber Insurance: Cybersecurity insurance isn’t new. Large enterprises have had a cybersecurity insurance policy in place for decades now. However, 2019 is going to be the first year that it’s accessible and affordable to businesses of all sizes. For AT&T Business customers, this is made possible through policies, underwritten by CNA, with Lockton Affinity serving as the insurance broker.
A recent Ponemon Institute Report found that in 2017, cyberattacks cost small and medium-sized businesses an average of $2,235,000. That’s a staggering number that will only continue to increase as hackers become more sophisticated and continue to target the most vulnerable.
My advice to small business owners – as you’re thinking about your holiday shopping list, add cyber insurance to that list to give yourself peace of mind. We know small businesses are focused on what they do best, and cybersecurity isn’t always top of mind. Let’s bring it to the top of the list for next year.
- Anne Chow, President – National Business, AT&T Business