Data breaches don't just happen to large enterprises; the smaller end of town is often targeted by cybercriminals. While a big company may be able to ride out the brand damage done by a data breach, small businesses may not be so lucky. Which is why small business owners need to take the proper precautions to ensure customer data is kept safe. Here are some steps they can take.
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Small companies may not have access to IT resources to stave off cyberattacks that could lead to data breaches. But there are ways these businesses can reduce the risk of data being stolen.
Adam Levin, founder of a data breach protection company, said in Entrepreneur:
"Small businesses need to follow the 3 Ms in order to navigate a most dangerous digital world. Minimize the risk of exposure; monitor networks; and have comprehensive incident response and resolution programs in place in order to manage the damage. In other words, respond urgently, transparently and empathetically to customers and employees in the event of a compromise."
One thing he recommended to small businesses looking to beef up their resistance against data breaches is to make employees the first line of defence. It's not uncommon for staff in a small business to have access to all the files and systems, including financial data and personnel records. But this means each employee could potentially be a gateway for hackers to come in and steal data. Managing the network access permissions of staff individually can remedy this issue. Levin said:
"If an employee doesn’t need access to sensitive data, don’t give it to them. When you change an employee’s role, update his or her login credentials to maintain a strong security posture. Equally important, immediately deactivate the network access of any employee who leaves the company, regardless of the circumstances of their departure."
Raising employee awareness and educating them about dangers such as phishing scams is also an important piece of the puzzle.
You can find more tips about this topic over at Levin's article for Entrepreneur.