(BPT) - The expanded use of technology offers big benefits for businesses. Without the right safeguards, it also means more vulnerability to cyberattacks.
Often lacking effective technology controls, small businesses are easy targets for hackers. According to a 2021 Verizon report, 46% of cyber breaches affected businesses with less than 1,000 employees. Of the small businesses hacked, 60% were out of business within a year of the event.
'Small businesses have been through a lot in the past few years,' says Aaron Stamm, retail consultant at Acuity Insurance with more than 35 years of experience in a broad range of retail, especially loss prevention. 'To protect their business, it's critical that business owners know the cybercrime risks, how to prevent attacks and how to protect their business in the event of a loss.'
Top cyber-risks for small businesses
Small businesses are especially vulnerable to ransomware attacks. This occurs when information or data is held hostage and a monetary payment is demanded to release it. Multifactor authentication can help to prevent this from happening.
Simple ways to improve cybersecurity
There is no one-size-fits-all solution for cybersecurity. The right fit for you will be unique to your business, data and needs.
But business owners don't have to be computer experts to follow cybersecurity best practices, including:
- Updating and patching your systems. Software providers are constantly looking for vulnerabilities in their products and send 'patches' to fix any issues they find. Until you make these updates on your system, your data is at risk. Turn on auto-updates to ensure your system is up to date.
- Using secure passwords and multifactor authentication. People are a major vulnerability. Teach everyone in your organization about password best practices and use multifactor authentication wherever you can.
- Backing up your data outside of your current network. If a cybercriminal accesses your network, they can take it hostage and keep you out of your systems. If you have your data backed up elsewhere, you can minimize the damage, avoid a costly ransomware payout and get back to work.
How businesses can protect themselves from cybercrime
Even the most comprehensive prevention plans can be thwarted. Cyber insurance should be part of the risk management strategy of every small business. Though it doesn't prevent cybercrime, cyber insurance can help a business get back on its feet if a loss occurs.
Cyber insurance varies widely and can include both first-party coverage, which pays the business in case of a cyber loss, and third-party coverage, which provides protection in the event a suit is brought against the business, following a cyberattack. Some insurers also bundle first- and third-party coverages like Acuity's Cyber Suite, which is designed to help businesses respond to a range of cyber incidents.
'No matter your business's size or scope, it's not immune to cyberattacks. Work with an independent insurance agent who can help you select the right coverage for your business,' Stamm said.