Beyond the Password: What SMBs Need to Know about Cybersecurity

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By Jo-Ann Smith

With the pandemic-driven shift to digital-first, small businesses are facing a big problem.

As businesses of all sizes transitioned into virtual ways of working seemingly overnight, hackers and bad actors were at play, prompting businesses of various levels, sizes and industries to make data and infrastructure security a higher priority.

However, as small- and medium-sized businesses were under intense pressure to develop their security posture, they often lacked the internal knowledge and resources to do so, leaving them vulnerable to cyber attacks.

In fact, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business recently reported that out of over 3,000 members, about a quarter had experienced cyber-attacks since March 2020. Relative to the entire economy, this means about 61,000 small- and mid-sized businesses were victims of cyber fraud last year.

With that in mind, it’s important to note that hackers and bad actors do not discriminate. Cyberattacks have been a common occurrence throughout the pandemic.

Take, for example, Facebook and the headline-making outage that happened a few weeks ago. On a Monday afternoon, Facebook and its acquired companies, such as Instagram and Whatsapp, completely dropped out of the internet, becoming unavailable worldwide for several hours. While unconfirmed, experts predicted that this disruption was caused by a potential cyberattack.

Another example of a cybersecurity breach happened with aerospace company, Bombardier. In February of 2021 Bombardier saw confidential data of around 130 employees and information about customers and suppliers compromised. Vulnerabilities in their third-party File Transfer application were found to be to blame.

While hackers and bad actors often aim for larger organizations, smaller organizations are just as much, if not more at risk than ever before. To cybercriminals, SMBs have fewer controls in place, making it easier to infiltrate.

Preparing for the worst

As Chief Information Security Officer at Long View Systems, I have seen and investigated a number of cyberattacks in my time. One thing that I have learned, however, is that you can always prepare for a cyberattack with ways that go beyond just the password, helping to secure your business and mitigate risk.

Here is a list of critical steps for small businesses to help prepare for and prevent a cyber attack

Conduct a security audit: The initial step to improving cybersecurity at your small business is understanding where you are. Not only can conducting a security audit help you understand the current landscape, but it can also help to improve your resilience in the case of a cyberattack.

Train employees in cybersecurity principles: Employees are the first line of defence in protecting against cybersecurity threats. Lessons in password protection or how to recognize a scam can help to ensure that your team is well equipped to prepare for a cyberattack.

Stay on top of software updates: At the end of the day, your security software is only as good as your update schedule. As new vulnerabilities and security patches are updated, make sure that you’re on top of installing any updates as they become available.

Keep your data backed up: ​​In the event of a cyberattack or security breach, your small business could lose it all. No matter how you choose to, from cloud solutions to physical storage, be sure that your data is always backed up.

Be prepared: Spend some time preparing for the worst, securing your network, training your employees, and planning for any likely scenario now before it’s too late.

Cyberattacks can happen to anyone, anywhere and at any time. However, having the right knowledge on how to be prepared can help strengthen your company’s vulnerabilities. Staying informed, alert and prepared can mean the difference between being secure and being a target.

Are you prepared to protect your business from a cyberattack?

Jo-Ann Smith is the Chief Information Security Officer of Long View Systems

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