With cyber threats on the rise, a robust cybersecurity strategy is essential to protect your company, employees, clients, and end-users. If you think cybersecurity strategies are only for large organizations or government agencies, think again.
Criminals are always looking for the low-hanging fruit. Small businesses often have poor or non-existent cybersecurity strategies, with staff whose knowledge doesn't extend past basic phishing attacks—which most email software filters anyway!
Every company must have a cybersecurity strategy, including solopreneurs and freelancers.
A good cybersecurity strategy starts with securing your credentials with a password manager. TeamPassword is a password management solution for small businesses. Sign up for a 14-day free trial today!
What is a Cybersecurity Strategy?
A cybersecurity strategy is a three to five-year plan detailing how a company will secure its assets and prevent attacks. Effective cybersecurity strategies are working guidelines, able to evolve and adapt to the ever-changing threat landscape.
A cybersecurity strategy is a preventative approach to cyberattacks with reactive measures for when incidents occur. The goal is to stay one step ahead of attackers, with a plan for all eventualities.
How to Develop a Cybersecurity Strategy
Before you can implement a cybersecurity strategy, you have to take stock of your business and its vulnerabilities. Conducting a security audit is one way to establish your baseline from which to build an effective strategy.
Evaluate the Threat Landscape
If you're a small business developing a cybersecurity strategy yourself, you must understand the threat landscape concerning your business practices, including the types of vulnerabilities and attacks.
You may also research competitors to see what breaches occur at companies like yours. In addition, you'll want to understand cyber-threat trends—what kinds of attacks are criminals deploying most often?
Make a list of all possible cybersecurity threats in a spreadsheet and prioritize them based on your company's operations.
Implement a Framework for Cybersecurity Maturity
With an understanding of the threat landscape, you can begin to assess your company's cybersecurity maturity. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) provides a framework and extensive training to help businesses manage cybersecurity risk.
Companies must assess all areas of the business, including technology, location/geography, employees, suppliers, and other vulnerabilities.
You can use the NIST framework to look ahead to the next three to five years to determine your goals and objectives for each category. It's critical to prioritize each category relevant to your business.
Improving Your Cybersecurity
It's time to identify the tools, training, and procedures required to meet your cybersecurity goals and objectives. Setting KPIs and budgeting resources will enable you to determine a realistic cybersecurity strategy for your business.
Depending on the size of your company, you may need to involve stakeholders from several departments.
Documenting Your Cybersecurity Strategy
You must document your cybersecurity strategy so that every team member is aware of key roles and responsibilities. Your cybersecurity strategy should include (this list is not exhaustive):
- Risk assessments
- Cybersecurity plans
Remember that a cybersecurity strategy will grow and evolve with technological and threat changes.
Top 10 Cybersecurity Strategies for Small Businesses
Here are our top 10 cybersecurity strategies for small businesses. This list isn't exhaustive but gives small businesses a great starting point to build an effective cybersecurity strategy.
1 - Cybersecurity Training
Team members are your company's first line of defense. Even the most sophisticated cybersecurity technology is ineffective if you don't train and educate your team.
Most hackers breach small businesses through social engineering attacks targeting employees. Continuous training keeps team members up-to-date with the latest scams and tactics.
Cybersecurity training isn't a one-off event. Companies should host monthly or quarterly cybersecurity training to instill best practices. A cybersecurity Slack channel or Wiki is also effective in providing alerts and updates.
The most important thing to reiterate is that employees must never share their system or password manager credentials, even with the CEO or IT head.
2 - Use a Password Manager
A password manager protects your company's credentials while preventing unauthorized access to shared accounts like marketing tools, social media platforms, accounting systems, or research tools, to name a few.
TeamPassword's password manager encrypts your passwords, so employees can't preview credentials to share them outside the app.
3 - Create Access Levels
Part of your cybersecurity strategy must identify different access levels for employees, freelancers, clients, users, and contractors. Limiting access to data, software, and other systems is an effective way to minimize a breach fallout.
Companies should also recognize that some attacks happen due to internal bad actors—employees assisting or carrying out an attack.
In 2021, some hackers offered employees up to $1 million to install ransomware on their company network!
Creating access levels will also help when it comes to sharing credentials through your password manager. For example, in TeamPassword, you can create groups that align with your security access levels to share access with coworkers safely.
4 - Using VPNs and Firewalls
Installing firewalls between your office network and the internet prevents outsiders from accessing network data. For remote teams working from home (WFH), invest in similar firewalls for their home networks.
If any WFH team members work with sensitive data, consider installing an additional internet connection at their home used ONLY for your company.
If team members work from coffee shops, coworking spaces, and other public WiFi networks, they must use a VPN (virtual private network).
VPNs and firewalls won't stop all cybercriminals, but they definitely make breaching your network and devices more challenging—like adding multiple padlocks and locks to a steel door.
5 - Avoid Using Personal Devices
Where possible, employees must only use company-issued computers and devices for work. If employees need a company phone, they should not install social media applications, private email, and other personal applications.
Many companies allow employees to open company emails and messaging apps like Slack using their personal devices. If hackers breach your employee's device, they have access to your company's internal communications—a hazardous cybersecurity scenario.
An attacker can pose as the employee, sending emails and messages malicious links to breach further victims and company networks.
At the very least, employees must not share their devices with friends, family members, and children especially. Kids love to open apps and tapping links and buttons randomly. If a malicious email notification appears, they could innocently install malware on your device.
6 - Protect Against Viruses, Malware, Spyware, and Ransomware
Every device should have robust protection against viruses, malware, spyware, and ransomware. You can use your company's cybersecurity messaging channel to notify employees of software updates to ensure you're always getting the best protection.
7 - Updates & Upgrades
One of the easiest ways to maintain secure software and hardware is by updating regularly. Product updates provide patches for vulnerabilities or to prevent the latest attacks.
There are countless examples of hackers exploiting product weaknesses to launch an attack. Without regular updates, hackers can exploit these vulnerabilities to breach your systems and networks.
8 - Securing Networks
There are many tools and procedures for securing company networks, but the first step is restricting your company's WiFi and internet access.
Install a separate internet connection for visitors, and use an authentication system for team members connecting to your company network.
9 - Data Backups
Data backups are critical to minimize the fallout from natural disasters, ransomware attacks, human error, and other catastrophic incidents. Companies should consider both on-site and off-site backups to safeguard against multiple eventualities.
A separate server could provide on-site backup for small businesses, while cloud storage could be an effective off-site solution.
10 - Secure Your Premises
Cybersecurity involves effectively protecting your physical assets as well as your digital assets. The most advanced cybersecurity is useless if someone can walk into your office and steal a server!
A company must secure its offices, including internal access to sensitive departments, servers, and other equipment. Your IT department and servers should be access controlled to prevent internal and external attacks.
Bonus Cybersecurity Strategy—Avoid Freeware!
Freeware is free software that often provides the same service and functionality as its premium counterparts.
There are two major freeware issues:
- Freeware often contain ads or mine and sell your data to make money
- It's not uncommon for criminals to use freeware to install malicious code
Ensure every software or application comes from an accredited organization with a good track record for privacy and security.
For example, TeamPassword is a secure hosting provider with multiple international accreditations. Our password manager encrypts your passwords, so not even our employees or engineers can access your data!
Protect Your Credentials With TeamPassword
Every cybersecurity strategy must provide effective password management processes and procedures.
TeamPassword is an affordable password management solution for small businesses. Get robust password protection without enterprise software costs.
As an accredited secure hosting provider, you can rest assured TeamPassword gives you safe and reliable password protection.
Sign up for a 14-day free trial to test TeamPassword for your company's cybersecurity strategy.