cyber threatsSmall businesses have so many day-to-day tasks to tackle that it’s understandable when certain things fall through the cracks. However, cyber security should not be one of those overlooked items. Contrary to popular belief, data thieves do not consider SMBs small potatoes, and are not more likely to target an enterprise corporation over a smaller organization. A 2016 Ponemon Institute survey of nearly 600 SMBs revealed that 55 percent had faced a cyber threat in the previous year. Since many SMBs don’t have great security solutions, they present easy, lucrative targets for data thieves.

The threat is real: Cyber criminals are actively searching for vulnerable organizations to target, and many small and medium-sized businesses are primed for a damaging data breach. To protect yourself against the many cyber threats lurking out there, be sure to adhere to the latest cyber security best practices.

Don’t neglect software patches

We’ve all ignored an annoying software update pop-up message at one point or another, but security-related patches are a completely different animal. If you fail to maintain consistent patching habits, your business will be at risk for a data breach. Many zero-day threats take advantage of unpatched vulnerabilities in operating systems, applications, and other software platforms. The Heartbleed bug that gave so many cyber security experts coronaries back in 2014 was one of the more devastating examples of a zero-day threat, allowing cyber criminals to infiltrate networks with relative ease. The WannaCry and subsequent NotPetya ransomware threats are other recent examples. Anyone who didn’t patch after WannaCry was vulnerable to NotPetya since it used the same exploit.

Patch management is a pillar of robust cyber security posture, and diligently checking for new software updates will help SMBs stay ahead of the curve and address newly discovered vulnerabilities as soon as possible.

Your employees should be assets - not liabilities - in the fight against cyber criminals.Your employees should be assets – not liabilities – in the fight against cyber criminals.

Create a security-conscious office

We often think of cyber threats as external forces trying to crack perimeter defenses and abscond with sensitive data. That’s not always the case, though. Verizon’s 2017 Data Breach Investigations Report discovered that one-quarter of data breaches involve internal actors. Even if office managers can vouch for the integrity of their staff, employees pose a threat to SMB cyber security by being liabilities.

It’s no secret: Employees rarely adhere to cyber security best practices. Whether they’re using weak passwords on work accounts or connecting a business-owned device to a public Wi-Fi network, staff members tend to create vulnerabilities in security strategies.

“The biggest mistake to make is to go it alone.”

Not every employee needs to be Brian Krebs, but they should be aware of cyber threats, like phishing, that commonly target office staff and use them as an entry point for a data breach. By teaching your workers to identify suspicious online activity and treat unusual emails and communications with a higher degree of skepticism, you can turn your staff into an asset in the fight against cyber threats.

Find your security partner

The biggest mistake an SMB can make with cyber security is to try and go it alone. Accounting for every vulnerability and cyber threat is difficult to do solo, and maintaining every single tool needed to keep data thieves at bay requires a lot of time, money, and know-how.

Instead, consider working with data security services partners to provide ironclad protection without breaking the bank. It’ll give you the peace of mind of knowing that your business can handle whatever cyber criminals throw your way.