It’s Time to Take Cybersecurity Personally

Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) routinely delegate cybersecurity efforts to an information technology department or outside specialists. Given an SMB’s typically limited resources, method is understandable.

Cybersecurity education

However, the scope of cybersecurity threats and hacker sophistication have increased over the past several years. And that increase is forcing the evolution of an SMB’s cybersecurity function. In other words, cybersecurity isn’t just an IT issue. It’s a matter that the entire business and all its employees should address.

Cybersecurity as a Business Issue

Believe it or not, cybersecurity is a holistic issue for SMBs. To prove this, all you need to do is look at how your business is managed:

  • Processes and operations are increasingly digitized. The bulk of a SMB’s critical data, including customer data and their payment profiles, is stored on data servers. Hackers who break into those servers remotely gain access to a treasure trove of sensitive information.
  • Data breaches are likely to draw the active attention of regulatory authorities. No business wants to respond to a regulatory request through its IT department. That response needs to come from management. After all, who else understands the company’s total cybersecurity strategy?
  • Good cybersecurity practices start with top-level management. If a company’s board or upper management ignores cybersecurity protections, the rest of the company will follow that lead.
  • SMBs must monitor that strategy across the entire organization and verify its implementation across departments.

Cybersecurity as a Personal Employee Issue

Apart from company-wide cybersecurity initiatives, employees also shoulder the burden of cybersecurity protection. Here are a few best practices to improve your cyber defense efforts:

  • An SMB’s employees are its weakest link where cybersecurity is concerned. No amount of technical solutions can protect a company against employee negligence. Examples include using poor passwords or clicking on phishing emails. Employees must actively engage in their own cybersecurity defenses.
  • The line between work responsibilities and personal activities gets blurred when employees bring smartphones or tablets in and out of the office. Advise staff to strictly follow your company’s “bring your own device” (BYOD) policies to protect sensitive data. This includes segregating personal and company data, limiting authority of mobile apps, and refraining from working via free Wi-Fi hotspots.
  • Good password practice is more than just using strong passwords. An employee should use different strong passwords for logins to different websites or systems. An employee should also refrain from sharing passwords and should change passwords on a regular basis. Password vaults can help employees to follow these guidelines.
  • Social media enables individuals to connect and share information with each other. Hackers leverage that information to break into corporate networks. Employees should avoid posting any information on social media that might enable hackers to conduct a social media phishing campaign.

Now that you are equipped with the knowledge necessary, you can start taking cybersecurity personally. Just remember that cybersecurity is an ongoing practice. It takes daily dedication.

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