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The Importance of Cybersecurity for Small Businesses

Managing the operations of a small business can be challenging. From day to day operations to longer-term strategies and the logistics of making everything come together seamlessly, being on top of all these responsibilities can quickly feel overwhelming. If you’re in the thick of everything, then chances are high that you’ve spent time considering the possibility of experiencing a cyberattack.

As more and more financial transactions shift away form traditional checks and hard currency exchanges, there is an ever-increasing need for security measures and effective policies that can protect small businesses and their clients from the risk of losing money or personal information. While digital transactions and online payment options can be a wonderful way to increase revenue and reduce the risk of encountering customers that are unwilling to pay, there is also a need to implement effective security measures that will protect you, and your customers, from the threats that exist on the internet today.

Large-scale data breaches, the theft of customer data, ransomware attacks, and other electronic threats are becoming more and more commonly reported in the news. While most of these stories focus on the impact these events have on large business enterprises like Home Depot, Target, and other corporations, not much attention is given to how these threats can impact small businesses.

The real truth though is that cybercriminals don’t see a difference between large or small businesses. These events don’t even have to be executed with precision. Instead, they can be blunt force attacks seeking to exploit any vulnerabilities they can find. Of course, they’re looking for specific goals, but will likely exploit smaller breaches which can present fewer obstacles. Whatever technology you use in your organization, users will always be the most significant vulnerability when it comes to cybersecurity. Ultimately, the best safeguard is via the implementation of clear cybersecurity policies and user education practices.

At Southwest Recovery Services, our team has spent years working with clients in a variety of industries to help minimize losses and restore lost revenue through effective collection practices. To help our clients minimize the potential risks posed by the nature of many digital services, we decided to spend a little time exploring some ways to implement basic security measures that can protect your business and keep the financial transactions between you and your customers safe.

Human Mistakes are the Highest Risk Factor

Even at a small business level, basic technologies and systems need to be in place to preserve security and network integrity. Firewalls and anti-virus software can be a tremendous help in blocking attacks. At the same time, there is no technology available that can offer protection against human error. The most common mistakes people make when it comes to cybersecurity are clicking malicious links, opening dangerous attachments, and accidentally entering login credentials on sites that are not legitimate.

It is important to note that this situation does not imply that employees or customers are simply not intelligent. Instead, it is a recognition that because of the dynamic, frequently changing nature of business in the modern world, it can be easy to treat emails, links, or attachments casually due to the frequency with which they are received. Taking a little time to inform both employees and customers about your specific payment options, and asking them to become familiar with your website and any mailing practices can have a surprising impact on both security and customer confidence when choosing to make payments online.

Effective Policy is the Best Place to Start

Creating an effective, straightforward policy for security can help employees or customers develop consistent, secure behavioral practices. Evaluating the various risks in today’s digital landscape while allowing for flexibility and revision over time is the most effective way to approach policy development. While there isn’t ever going to be a universal solution for every potential scenario, cybersecurity in a small business environment should typically involve procedures related to email, password protection, and options for multi-step authentication.

Basic Email Policies are Important

The practice of masking fraudulent emails as legitimate messages to secure personal information is known as phishing. Making sure that a cybersecurity policy is in place to impress upon employees and customers the need for caution when dealing with an email from external sources is important. Making an informative statement regarding the nature of any emails you may be sending out can help build confidence and awareness and reduce the risk of these types of attacks.

Passwords Must be Used Properly

Following basic best practices for passwords is essential to maintaining cybersecurity. Educate users on the importance of never sharing passwords, and emphasize the need to implement different login credentials for each online service to reduce the risk of security compromises through less protected internet content. 

Multi-Factor Authentication Considerations

More and more businesses are turning towards multi-factor authentication (MFA) as a means of preventing cyberattacks and reducing user vulnerability concerns. By requiring a user to have not only a password but an additional code generated by a device or app which can be installed on their smartphone, hackers are far less likely to gain access to a system protected. According to recent studies by industry professionals, up to 99.9% of all attempted account hacks have been stopped thanks to this security measure.

Promote Awareness

Because human error is at the core of many cybersecurity threats in the modern world, promoting awareness and caution among users is at the core of all security policies. Reaching out to your users, whether they are employees or customers, and helping them feel involved in the process of protecting the business can make a surprising impact on their commitment and adherence to security policy and procedure. Maintaining effective security policies can help protect your financial data, and increase the likelihood that your customers will feel confident making digital payments with your business.

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