Reducing Cybersecurity Risk for Small Businesses: A Guide to Seeking Outside Support
Cybersecurity is an area of growing concern for businesses of all sizes, and small businesses are no exception. However, most small business owners and managers have their focus on the fundamentals of managing and building their business, leaving them with little time to focus on cybersecurity. This is where outside support comes in. In this article, we will discuss the first guide in a five-part series on using outside firms to reduce your cybersecurity risk, developed by the Cyber Readiness Institute in consultation with its Small Business Advisory Council.
The first step in determining whether you need outside help for your cybersecurity is to take an honest look at your cybersecurity risk. You should prioritize the systems and data that you need to run your company. Start by listing the information and data that are most important to the success of your organization, such as customer information and confidential business information. Then list the computer hardware and software tools that are most important for running your organization, such as your website, email, file storage, accounting system, and databases. From these lists, identify the top three to five items that would cause the most damage to your organization if they were unavailable, lost, or stolen. Let’s call these your crown jewels.
Once you have identified your crown jewels, determine who has access to them, and realistically determine how well protected they are. If you are not comfortable with the level of protection, or if you cannot tell how well protected they are, you need to get outside support. You should also determine if there are any data protection, cybersecurity, or data privacy requirements from your customers or applicable federal or local laws and regulations.
When assessing your cybersecurity risk, think about data loss and business continuity. For example, if you’re an accounting firm, losing customer data is probably a lot worse than having your website go down for a week. On the other hand, if you sell products and services online, having your website go down for a week could be extremely detrimental.
If it looks like you need to consider getting outside support, don’t worry. Most small businesses need to get some outside support for IT and cybersecurity. As a non-profit organization, the Cyber Readiness Institute can provide free, straightforward advice. They can help you understand the difference between an IT consultant, a Managed Service Provider (MSP), and a Managed Security Service Provider (MSSP). They can also provide guidance on where and how to use cloud services to help your business be more cyber-secure and resilient.
It is important to note that while you can outsource some of your cybersecurity responsibilities, you cannot outsource your accountability for cybersecurity. With or without outside help, it will always be your responsibility to create and foster a culture of cyber readiness within your organization. There was a time when cybersecurity was not considered to be a fundamental of managing a business, but that time has passed. You need to focus on it the same way you prioritize your financials, customer relations, and human resources.
In conclusion, cybersecurity is multifaceted, and you need a well-educated workforce that is aware of the basic elements of cybersecurity. If you are overwhelmed by the prospect of managing your cybersecurity risk, it is okay to seek out guidance. Take an honest look at your cybersecurity risk, prioritize your crown jewels, and determine if you need outside support. With the help of the Cyber Readiness Institute and its Small Business Advisory Council, you can create a culture of security within your organization and reduce your cybersecurity risk.