Launching a small business is an exciting, often life-changing step. You’ve taken the seed of an idea and made it a reality, and now you’re a full-fledged entrepreneur. Of course, this comes with a lot of responsibility and a good deal of work. You probably have an extensive to-do list, but make sure you put security at the top.
The smallest mistake or the slightest oversight could derail your entire business and leave you in disaster. Fortunately, there’s plenty you can do to protect yourself as a small business owner. From quality assurance (QA) testing to ensuring compliance with national and international rules, here are the top threats for your business and how you can address them.
Capital One, Marriott, Quest Diagnostics, Under Armour, Canva, Planet Hollywood, Macy’s, and Adidas all suffered data breaches in 2019. And those are just some of the biggest names on the list of the many, many large and small businesses that have been victims cybercrimes costing millions and sometimes billions of dollars. In fact, the average cost of data breaches in 2019 was $3.92 million.
How do you protect yourself from one of the most costly and pernicious threats of the 21st century? There are many measures you can take as a small business owner. They include:
- Hiring a skilled software QA tester or QA companies to thoroughly test your products and their security measures before you launch them
- Working with IT specialists to create strong security systems within your company, like installing VPNs and firewalls
- Educating employees on issues such as phishing schemes, how to create strong passwords, and more
Speaking of educating employees, this is an extremely important vehicle for protecting your burgeoning small business. Even the smartest people can make mistakes, from revealing a password to falling victim to a phishing attack. This can put your entire operation at risk.
To address this, your employees must receive extensive and rigorous training on cybersecurity. They must learn about your organization’s policies and rules, including creating strong passwords, protecting company data, and the types of websites they can visit on company-owned devices. They should also learn how to spot hacking attempts and what to do to avoid them.
Training shouldn’t be a one-off. Employees will need refreshers on a regular basis, and you should evaluate how well they’ve absorbed the information through tests administered before they’re able to use the equipment. Keep them apprised of any news related to cybersecurity so they stay on the alert.
In January 2019, Google was fined the equivalent of $57 million for violating the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). These rules govern how businesses are able to access and use people’s personal data. The violation concerned the process of setting up Android phones.
This case underscores the importance of ensuring that you’re complying with any rules and laws in place for businesses such as yours. Your failure to comply with these regulations could end up being costly and damage your reputation. You can’t afford to risk that as a small business owner.
Make sure you pay attention to the rules of any area in which you operate because you’ll need to abide by them no matter where your headquarters are located — as evidenced by the Google and GDPR case described above. Even though Google’s headquarters are in the US, the tech giant is still subject to European laws because it conducts business there.
Lack of preparation
The most important thing you can do is prepare. Think about the risks for your company. What financial concerns could you face? Are there risks in terms of your location? For example, if your area faces frequent hazardous weather conditions, you should consider investing in insurance to protect yourself. The same goes for crime, digital and otherwise.
Take stock of your situation and identify any potential areas of weakness before they become an issue. Having a plan in place won’t solve all your problems should the worst come to pass, but it will allow you to know how to deal with them.
There are so many things to consider as a small business owner, and it can be exhausting to even think about them all. But your safety and security isn’t something you can afford to overlook. Taking these steps can help make sure a threat doesn’t turn into a disaster.