Protecting your business

Protecting your business

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This is a guest post from A.P. Reid Insurance Limited
(Member since 2001)

Contributors:

Arin Selig, CIP, CRM, Commercial Relationship Manager, A.P. Reid Insurance

Why small businesses need cyber security

Cyberattacks on businesses are becoming more frequent news items. The attacks on high-profile companies, such as Sony and Target, have resulted in national headlines — and have helped to bring the growing issue of cybercrime to the forefront. Surveys conducted by organizations such as the Small Business Authority, Symantec and the National Cyber Security Alliance, revealed that many small business owners are still operating under a false sense of cyber security and are unaware of the growing threat of cyberattacks on their business.

The statistics are bleak. The majority of small businesses surveyed did not have a formal internet security policy for employees and only half of these businesses had a basic cyber security measure in place. Further, only about a quarter of small business owners have had an outside party test their computer systems to ensure they are hacker-proof. Nearly 40 per cent do not have their data backed up in more than one location.

Despite these critical security exposures, up to 85 per cent of small business owners believe their company is safe from hackers, viruses, malware and data breaches. This disconnect is largely due to a widespread belief that small businesses are unlikely targets for cyberattacks. To the contrary, data thieves are actually looking for the path of least resistance and as more and more of the larger companies get serious about data security, small businesses are becoming increasingly attractive targets. The results of which are often devastating for these small business owners.

In recent years, almost 60 per cent of small businesses victimized by a cyberattack were forced to permanently close within six months. Many of these businesses had put off making necessary improvements to their cyber security protocols until it was too late due to beliefs that the costs would be too prohibitive. Avoid making this mistake — even if you don’t currently have the resources to bring in an outside expert to test your computer systems and make security recommendations — there are simple, economical steps that you can take to reduce your risk of falling victim to a costly cyberattack.

The following list includes easily implementable security procedures and is a great place to start:

• Train employees in cyber security principles, including (but not limited to) email safety and identifying phishing and fraudulent emails. Establish policies on how business data, such as email, should be accessed remotely.

• Install, use and regularly update antivirus and antispyware software on every computer used in your business.

• Use a firewall for your internet connection.

• Download and install software updates for your operating systems and applications as they become available.

• Make backup copies of important business data and information.

• Control physical access to your computers and network components.

• Secure your Wi-Fi networks. If you have a Wi-Fi network for your workplace, make sure it is secure and hidden.

• Require individual user accounts for each employee.

• Limit employee access to data and information and limit authority to install software.

• Use secure passwords and change them regularly.

In addition to taking these steps, having a disaster recovery plan ready in the event of an attack is critical. Having backup copies of your important data, including one offsite and one disconnected from your network may assist with the recovery. There are various insurance products available to assist in transferring cyber risks.

Cyber security is a serious concern for all businesses, large and small. Contact a member of the Commercial Insurance Team at A.P. Reid to help identify your exposures and provide options that best suit your needs.

< Back to Articles | Topics: Trends

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