Small businesses owners tend to view IT risks as something other companies should worry about, especially in light of the major security breaches suffered by some of the largest companies on the planet. After all, data breaches only ever impact huge corporations…right?
What you probably don’t realize is that your small business is at just as much risk as a larger business. Cyber criminals know most small companies lack either the resources or knowledge to adequately protect against a real attack on their IT infrastructure.
Let’s take a look at the biggest IT security challenges facing your business right now.
#1 Cyber Crime
This makes first place on our list for the simple reason that cyber criminals are becoming better at what they do every single month – especially when it comes to phishing emails. This risk is magnified by the widespread use of personal smartphones in the workplace. It only takes one careless employee to expose your business to serious financial losses. Phishing emails – and the malware that comes with them – are responsible for a growing number of expensive IT security breaches.
500 Million Personal Records
Were Lost or Stolen in 2015
#2 Data Disposal
We’ve seen numerous examples of companies selling old computers to employees, assuming that the hard drives on those systems were securely erased. We’ve also been witness to a case where a second-user PC was sold to a trusted employee, who then discovered it had the credit card details of more than 100,000 customers stored on it. The consequences of this computer being sold to a member of the public would have been catastrophic.
Using software to erase data storage devices simply isn’t enough. The only way you can be certain those devices no longer contain sensitive data is to physically destroy them, either with electromagnets, or a hammer.
Phishing Attacks Targeting Employees
Increased 55% in 2015
#3 Force Majeure
Or, in other words, Murphy’s Law. Even if you have every other aspect of your IT systems sealed, signed for, and protected, you still run the risk of life getting in the way. Chance occurrences, events that cannot be anticipated or controlled, and Mother Nature’s wrath, are very real threats to your business. What would happen to your business in the unlikely event of a lightning strike, which then caused a fire? If all your data and business documents are stored onsite, then you can start filing for your Chapter 13 now, because you’ll be out of business within ninety days.
Offsite secondary data and document storage is the only way you can stay free of risk. Sure, you’d face a significant bill in replacing computer hardware, but no amount of money can restore lost data.
In 2015 Ransomware Attacks Increased by 35%
#4 IT Policies
If you’re not educating your new and existing employees on the importance of IT and data security, then you’re leaving your business wide open to everything from phishing attacks, to your premises being physically compromised. IT security education and training should begin for your employees while they’re still onboarding. If you’ve been lax in your approach to this so far, then now is the perfect time to launch a new training program focused on these topics.
The more educated your employees are, the better prepared they are to not create IT security problems. Part of this education process should be the creation, and regular updating, of IT security policies which cover everything from software downloads, to social media interactions, and what data devices are permissible in the workplace. All of these policies need to cover acceptable use, and the outcome of not following these policies.
By 2019 Cyber Crime Will Cost Businesses
More Than $2 Trillion (US)
#5 Human Element
Your employees are the single biggest risk to your IT security. It’s not that they don’t care about your business, or their jobs. The issue is that they fail to see the risk associated with downloading random freeware, torrent files, or replying to phishing emails. Good employees are just as likely to pose a security risk as the employees you don’t fully trust. Every person you employ should pass a thorough background check, as well as being fully trained in the proper use of the IT equipment they’ll work with each day, and the real implications of a serious IT breach i.e. they could lose their jobs, and so could everyone else.
Also, make sure you have a clearly defined “termination” process, in that when an employee leaves the company, their access to systems, services and devices is revoked. This gives you the peace of mind of knowing that your systems are now secure from any disgruntled ex-employees.