6 Steps For Protecting Your Small Business From Cybercriminals

By: Breyden Kellam

Think cybercriminals are only after big businesses? Think again. According to Verizon’s 2022 Data Breach Investigations Report, small businesses – that is, companies with fewer than 1,000 team members – accounted for 715 data breach incidents. And very small businesses, or those with 10 team members or less, were targeted even more so – with a frequency of 832 incidents.

What makes small businesses so enticing to cybercriminals? Usually, small businesses are limited in resources and are unable to afford the top-notch technology and security systems that large organizations can. So, between the cost to rebound from a cyberattack and the damage it can do to a company’s reputation, this type of crime can destroy a small business.

As a broker, there’s another thing to consider. Along with making one of the biggest purchases of their lives, your clients are also giving away something of even more value – their personal information. Throughout the mortgage process, clients will need to provide you with their full name, birthdate, Social Security number and contact information. They’ll also disclose sensitive financial information such as account balances, debts and past bankruptcies or foreclosures. For this reason, it’s important to make sure your business’s data is secure.

Here are some steps you can take to keep your small business safe from cybercriminals.

Assess Your Risk

Examine the security measures that your small business already has in place to protect its data.

Are there any areas in which you could be vulnerable to a cyberattack? Identify what assets you need to protect, along with any potential threats, then prioritize them.

Create A Plan

Maybe you’ve heard the saying, “The best defense is a good offense.” Well, this can also be true when considering best cybersecurity practices. Creating a plan is a good way to prevent a data breach, as well as minimize the impact of a data breach, if one ever occurs. Along with the steps listed below, your plan should clearly lay out what to do if you encounter a cyberattack.

Instill Cybersecurity In Your Culture

Educate your team on the importance of cybersecurity. Hold required, annual security trainings and enforce security policies and procedures. Provide tips for creating smart passwords and warn against phishing emails, which attempt to get sensitive information from the recipient. Supply educational materials, run routine drills and make it easy for team members to report threats. Make cybersecurity such a part of your team’s culture that it becomes second nature

to report anything that looks suspicious. A cybersecurity-conscious culture could make all the difference in the fate of your small business!

Protect Your Network

Set up a virtual private network, or VPN, for employees who work remotely. VPNs keep a company’s data safe when team members are accessing the internet through a public network.

You’ll also want to set up firewalls­. These are security systems that monitor and control the traffic coming in and out of your company’s network. Based on a set of security rules, the firewall will either block or permit access to the private network.

Test And Assess Your Security

Once everything is in place, make sure it works! Frequently assess your current cybersecurity measures – always looking for ways to bolster them.

Consult A Cybersecurity Professional

Whether you’re just beginning to implement cybersecurity measures or wanting to strengthen your existing ones, it may be helpful to consult a cybersecurity professional. You may use their services when developing your plan or when testing your system. No matter what stage you’re at, a trusted professional can provide guidance to strengthen the cybersecurity of your small business – especially if you don’t consider yourself to be the most tech savvy.