Fortunately, data security doesn’t have to be a hopeless endeavor. In contrast, there are active steps that every company can take to protect their information and their long-term viability in today’s hostile digital environment.
1. Expect the expected.
In many ways, cybersecurity can feel like an existential threat that is both unidentifiable and undefinable. In reality, some risks are more prominent than others, and SMBs can cover many of their basis by expecting the expected.
Specifically, a company’s own employees represent one of the most prescient threats in today’s data landscape. For instance, Verizon’s 2019 Data Breach Investigations Report found that fully 30% of all data breaches are attributable to insider threats. Whether employees maliciously steal company info or accidentally expose sensitive information, they are often the ones working directly with data.
To protect this valuable information, every company should consider some iteration of employee monitoring or data management software that can regulate data access and movement while holding bad actors accountable for their actions.
Of course, employees compromise information in other ways, as well. More than a quarter of all cyberattacks start with phishing attacks that coax unsuspecting employees into handing over their credentials and giving bad actors unparalleled access to company data. That’s not to say that most employees are foolish or fraudulent. Rather SMBs should expect the expected threats, and they should appropriate their resources to address these vulnerabilities.
2. Automate whenever possible.
SMBs can support their cybersecurity initiatives – and their beleaguered IT staff – by instituting automation whenever possible.
Today’s employee monitoring and endpoint data loss prevention software is more capable than ever before, and the best options come equipped with automation tools that reduce the strain on overworked cybersecurity staff. For example, SMBs can automate access to sensitive data sets, making it less likely that this information will end up in the wrong hands. Moreover, placing automated restrictions on data movement or privacy controls helps ensure that data privacy is a priority down to the software level.
This is especially important for supporting already-exhausted cybersecurity staff. Cisco’s 2019 Asia Pacific CISO Benchmark Study found that Australian organizations receive over 100,000 security alerts every day, a number that’s so large that it can feel like an abstraction. However, it’s indicative of the significance of the task and the importance of lightening the load whenever possible.
3. Prioritize cybersecurity communication.
Effective cybersecurity initiatives require an all-in approach from SMBs, which means that top-down communication and collaboration are crucial. Actively train employees about the magnitude of the data threat, and provide them with the information they need to successfully protect company data. Since a company’s very survival could be on the line, everyone has an incentive to get this priority right.
In addition, communicate data handling and management standards. If employees shouldn’t access company data on personal devices, let them know, and enforce that standard with the right technology. Whatever the expectation, make regular communication an integral part of your cybersecurity strategy.
It might help identify additional best practices for data security, and it will undoubtedly help employees do their part to keep information secure.
It’s estimated that improving cybersecurity will collectively save companies more than $5 trillion over the next five years, which means that SMBs have much to gain and everything to lose by embracing this priority.
For many consumers, data privacy and cybersecurity are becoming the differentiating factors when choosing where they want to spend their money, time and attention. In truth, today’s data landscape is as much an opportunity as it is a liability, and companies that can deliver on this prerogative have positioned themselves to flourish in today’s digital environment.