In 2016, 61 percent of data breaches impacted small businesses, up from 53 percent in 2015. That means your small business could be at risk from cyber criminals, whether you’ve been in business for years or you’re just opening your doors.
Many small business owners don’t take the threat of cyber crime seriously, but a single data breach could be enough to drive you out of business. A single incidence of cyber crime could cost your business $84,000 to $148,000, shatter customers’ confidence in your business, and force you to close up shop. 60 percent of small businesses must close their doors within six months of a cyber attack.
It’s hard enough to run a successful small business as a woman without worrying that a cyber attack could ruin all your hard work. Endpoint security is the answer. Here’s what you need to know to protect your small business.
Antivirus Software Isn’t Enough
These days, simply installing antivirus (AV) software on your company’s computer system isn’t sufficient to protect it from cyber criminals. Today’s malware threats are increasingly difficult for AV software to detect, because hackers increasingly use polymorphic malware. Polymorphic malware mutates like a living virus, changing its features to evade detection by traditional AV software.
Besides, AV software isn’t the best choice for detecting even more prosaic malware, because it relies on regular updates to a signature database in order to detect threats. It can take AV software up to six months to obtain the signatures needed to identify a specific malware threat, during which time that virus, bot, Trojan, worm, keylogger, or other malware could be wreaking havoc on your system undetected.
Malware Isn’t the Only Threat
Another reason why AV software isn’t enough anymore is that malware isn’t the only threat. The people who make up your staff also pose a risk to your business’s cyber security. Are you sure your employees are who they say they are? Hackers could seek to gain access to your system, and the valuable sensitive data therein, by getting a job with your organization. Could a disgruntled former employee still have access to your system? He or she could take revenge by stealing company data.
Employees don’t always compromise sensitive data on purpose. Sometimes, they do so through poor security hygiene, making innocent mistakes that could nevertheless sink your whole enterprise. You yourself could comprise your business’s data by storing it on an insecure cloud platform or accidentally downloading suspicious software onto a company device.
Understanding Endpoint Security
Do you or your employees conduct business using tablets, smart phones, or laptops? Do you or your employees occasionally conduct personal computing tasks on your business devices, such as answering email or looking at social media? Can you say with certainty that you or your employees have never clicked on a suspicious link? Do you have a dedicated cyber security team? Are you using cloud services like DropBox, Google Drive, or One Drive? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may be at risk – but endpoint security solutions are engineered to address the risks inherent in using mobile devices and cloud storage in your business.
Endpoint security goes further than traditional AV software ever could, to offer:
- Secure encryption for emails, devices, and hard disks
- Protection from suspicious downloads
- Controlled network access
- Data loss prevention
- Insider threat protection
- Data classification and layered security
- Security hygiene and best practices education
- Threat detection and response for all devices on the system
Endpoint security can protect customers’ sensitive information, preserving their faith in your organization and protecting your business’s future. It can ensure that background checks are used to vet employees before hire, and that network access is withdrawn from former employees immediately upon termination of their employment.
Educating yourself and your employees regarding best cyber security practices could be the single most important thing you can do for endpoint security, but a comprehensive solution will also protect your system by stopping suspicious downloads with application whitelisting. Access to data and network controls will be given only to those who need it. Threat response should mitigate damage caused by any threats that can’t be stopped outright.
If you own a small business, you need an effective and comprehensive endpoint security solution to protect your business data, your customers, and your bottom line from cyber threats. The threat to small businesses is growing – are you ready to address it?