Cybersecurity for Small Businesses: Protecting Against Hackers on a Budget

Cybersecurity for Small Businesses: Protecting Against Hackers on a Budget

Cybersecurity is a critical concern for businesses of all sizes. Threats ranging from ransomware to stolen data are increasing in complexity, making recruitment of cybersecurity specialists more important than ever.

For smaller businesses, one of the most significant challenges is limited budgets. How can a startup with a handful of employees hope to compete with larger businesses that have the funds to invest in multi-layer ZTNA (zero trust network access) solutions and other security advancements?

Thankfully, there are practical tips that all small business leaders can employ to drive cost-effective strategies, improving their firm’s cybersecurity posture and defending more effectively against hackers.

Misconceptions About Small Business Cybersecurity 

Many small businesses believe they won’t be the victim of hackers because they’re not large enough to be noticed. They think their assets aren’t of interest or that malicious actors only target major corporations.

Sadly, the opposite is true. At least 46% of all cyberattacks and data breaches impact those businesses that have 1000 employees or fewer. Even more alarmingly, 2023 research indicates that 61% of small or medium businesses were the victim of a cyberattack over the course of a year.

Cybercriminals, also known as malicious, bad, or threat actors, are very aware of small firms’ budget limitations. They also know that newer businesses don’t always react to cyberattacks in the best way, providing bad actors with more opportunities to exploit funds and data from these companies.

Identifying Critical Assets and Vulnerabilities

With that in mind, small businesses that take the time to create a solid cybersecurity foundation are more likely to come through these attacks unscathed. Creating a list of assets and their vulnerabilities is the first step.

Assets are any item, digital or physical, that could be impacted by a cyberattack. These assets may include:

  • Hardware and devices
  • Project or product data
  • Personal information
  • Business systems
  • System login details
  • Cybersecurity systems

Work with a security officer or third-party managed service providers to identify what assets require protection and their potential vulnerabilities.

For example, an employee who regularly accesses the company network via a public Wi-Fi connection using an unapproved device could provide a backdoor for hackers. Identifying and mitigating these risks is a cost-effective way to quickly enhance your company’s cybersecurity hygiene.

Implementing Foundational Cybersecurity Hygiene Practices

Cybersecurity hygiene refers to regular practices that provide a strong foundation to ward off hackers and other security risks. Create a cybersecurity hygiene checklist with practices that you can realistically implement across the whole business. Here are a few common practices you might have on your list:

  • No password sharing
  • Implement two-factor authentication (2FA) for all business systems
  • Update software regularly
  • Only share links and documents via shared drives or other password-protected channels
  • Use data encryption services

Effective implementation of these practices relies on proper employee education.

Educating Employees on Cybersecurity Best Practices

Your team members have to believe in the effectiveness of these practices before they use them on a day-to-day basis. Provide education on the risks associated with poor security hygiene. Explain how to avoid phishing scams and the dangers of clicking links or opening documents in emails — even if the email address seems legitimate.

You can also work with a cybersecurity professional to ensure that employees only have access to the data they need for their role. This reduces vulnerabilities across the organization as a whole.

Affordable Cybersecurity Solutions and Tools for Small Businesses

Small businesses don’t have to spend a fortune on cybersecurity services. There are plenty of affordable ways to fight hackers and prevent data breaches. Multiple providers offer affordable:

  • Firewalls and next-generation firewalls (NGFW)
  • VPNs
  • Antivirus software
  • Anti-malware software
  • Endpoint detection and response tools (EDR)
  • Log monitoring solutions
  • Cloud-based security platforms

Remember, start with identifying the assets you want to protect. From here, you can identify the best cybersecurity solutions at a price that fits your budget.

Finding Top Talent in a Rapidly Evolving Marketplace

Recruiting the right cybersecurity specialists to protect against hackers and threat actors is an ongoing challenge. Recruiters need to know what skills to advertise for and appropriate salaries and benefits packages to attract top talent.

Working with experienced talent advisors can bring a new approach to these challenges. Finding the right partner with the know-how to direct recruitment strategies can help small businesses source professionals ranging from Quantum Cryptography experts to Chief Security Officers (CSOs).

Follow MRINetwork for more insights into trends impacting small businesses and hiring practices across multiple industries.