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4 simple ways to prioritize cyber-risk management in your small business

Posted by Grace Townsley

January 11, 2023

Cyber-risk management is the process of identifying, assessing and responding to potential threats that can have a negative impact on a business’ data security. It includes making sure your network and systems are secure from malicious attacks, like viruses or hackers and should be a top priority for businesses of every size and growth stage.

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Cybersecurity isn’t a new risk, but it is a growing one

You may think cyber-risk management is a new concern, but in reality, cyberthreats have been around for a long time. In fact, the first data breach to affect over 1 million individuals actually occurred in 2005! 

In total, 1.4 million names and credit cards were stolen from a large company, putting every one of those people at risk. Cyber-risk management has become an increasingly important consideration for businesses as the internet and digital technology are advancing. 

And as the online threats faced by organizations increase, it’s essential that business owners take steps to protect their data from these malicious attacks. Companies need to stay up to date with security trends and best practices in order to keep their data secure from hackers and other cyber criminals.

Small business owners in particular should be aware of the risks posed by cyberattacks and put better security practices in place to protect their data — and their customers’. Implementing effective security measures will help safeguard your business against potential cyberthreats while also helping you meet the data safety and security compliance standards that may apply in your industry or jurisdiction.

How can a business owner improve their cyber-risk management systems?

You don’t have to be an IT expert to improve the cyber-risk management systems and procedures your business has in place. Here are a few of the basic ways you can get started identifying, analyzing and tracking cybersecurity threats, before they’re able to damage your business, your customers or your reputation. 

1. Increase your data protection

Data protection is a critical component of cyber-risk management. It involves the implementation of measures to protect data from unauthorized access, use, disclosure and destruction. This includes making sure that only authorized users have access to sensitive information, encrypting stored data so it can’t be read by unauthorized parties and having a clear policy on how long data should be kept before being deleted or archived securely.

Data protection also means making sure all backups are regularly updated and stored off-site, in case of a system failure or disaster.

2. Activate threat monitoring

Threat monitoring is an ongoing cyber-risk management task. It involves actively monitoring your network, data, and software systems for any suspicious activity or malicious threats. 

This can be done using automated tools to detect known threats, or through manual processes, like analyzing logs for any suspicious behavior that could indicate an impending attack. It also includes responding quickly to any alerts or warnings, updating security measures when new threats are identified and implementing measures to prevent similar attacks from occurring in the future.

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3. Establish a cyber perimeter

Cyber perimeter establishment means establishing a secure boundary around a network or system to protect it from unauthorized access. To keep your systems secure, you can set up firewalls and other security measures such as authentication protocols, virus scanning tools and data encryption to limit access only to authorized users. 

Establishing strong cyber perimeters helps protect your small businesses from malicious attacks by making it harder for hackers to gain entry into your internal systems, like payroll, payment processing and customer data storage. It also helps ensure that any sensitive information on the network remains secure, so that it can’t be accessed or stolen by unauthorized parties.

4. Start intelligence gathering

Intelligence gathering is collecting information about potential threats and vulnerabilities from various sources, like the open internet, the dark web, social media, industry reports and whitepapers. This information can then be used to identify weaknesses in your network or system so that appropriate measures can be taken to mitigate those risks. 

Intelligence gathering also helps businesses stay up-to-date with the latest trends in cybersecurity and hacking methods, so they can quickly and proactively respond to emerging threats.

No business is immune from cyber-security risk

Without proper cyber-risk management measures in place, small businesses and entrepreneurs are at risk of having their data compromised or stolen by malicious actors. Not only do these cyberthreats put your data at risk, they can put your customers (and their customers’) information at risk too, if you accidentally forward a fraudulent link, or if your email inbox is compromised and used maliciously. 

A cybersecurity breach like this can lead to more than just lost revenue. Your reputation is also at stake. And in many states and industries, loose cyber-risk management processes can result in hefty fines if your regulatory compliance requirements aren’t met. 

To reiterate, it is an unfortunate myth that any business is too small to be targeted or possesses data of no value to a hacker. Cyber liability insurance is among the top six types of insurance that protect small businessess, but most insurers still require cyber liability policyholders to follow a rigorous cyber-risk management program for coverage to apply. 

Cyber-risk management isn’t just good for you, it’s good for business

Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the risks posed by cyberthreats. Already, shoppers are taking steps to protect their own data by avoiding unsafe websites and ensuring that their online accounts have strong passwords. 

Many customers even use anti-theft credit cards and payment methods to avoid putting sensitive payment information on the internet. 

As a business owner or entrepreneur, it’s essential that you prioritize cyber risk management to demonstrate to your customers that you take protecting their data seriously. Having robust measures in place will not only help keep your business safe from malicious attacks, but also gives your customers peace of mind that when they shop with you, they’re safe.

Want more? Since 2006, Escalon has helped thousands of startups get off the ground with our back-office solutions for accounting, taxes, HR, payroll, insurance, and recruiting — and we can help yours too. Talk to an expert today.

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Grace Townsley
Grace Townsley

As a professional copywriter in the finance and B2B space, Grace Townsley offers small business leaders big insights—one precisely chosen word at a time. Let's connect!

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