Defending Your Business: Essential Cybersecurity Tips for Small to Medium-Sized Businesses (SMBs)

Written by Unica Insurance
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Cybersecurity: A necessity for organizations of every size

Most business owners ensure they have adequate protection for their physical property, assets, and operations. However, safeguarding the organization against cyber threats and liabilities is an aspect often overlooked.

Canadian companies face an estimated average cost of $6.94 million for a data breach, making it the third most expensive in the world. Despite this, a recent report from Insurance Business Canada shows less than half of surveyed businesses have implemented defenses against a possible cyber attack.

Businesses of all sizes are at risk, as even a single-person operation is likely to be in possession of important data that can be a target for cyber criminals. And the larger the organization, the more security vulnerabilities among employees exist.

To help your organization minimize risk and stay secure in the digital world, we’ve gathered these essential tips on cybersecurity for SMBs:

1. Develop an Incident Response Plan

Having an incident response plan will help your business respond swiftly to incidents—minimizing data loss and limiting service interruptions. It’ll also ensure your business is compliant with cybersecurity regulations and legal requirements.

Regularly test and update your plan. The cybersecurity landscape is constantly evolving, and your defense should adapt accordingly. Regulations may also change, such as the 2018 introduction of the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act requiring business owners to notify individuals about privacy breaches and report incidents to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada.
2. Enable Security Software

Invest in reputable antivirus, anti-malware, and firewall solutions to actively protect your business from cyber threats. If your organization uses mobile devices for business, install a web filtering solution against harmful content and malicious websites.

3. Patch Operating Systems and Applications

Just as you’d maintain your physical property, it’s crucial to regularly update and patch your software. Enable automatic updates on software and hardware to reduce security vulnerabilities that can be exploited.

4. Back Up and Encrypt Data

Create copies of your info and critical applications to secure additional locations, such as external drives or the cloud. Remember to test your backups regularly—in the event of a breach, your backups will help to get your business back to full speed and prevent data loss.

5. Train Your Employees

Once your organization has established cyber security policies and procedures, ensure your team understands them and can recognize phishing emails, avoid risky online behavior, and understand the basics of cybersecurity and data breach prevention.

Reduce user privileges to just the essentials to minimize the risk of unauthorized access and remember to regularly audit user logins, deactivating or restricting accounts that no longer need access. You should also tailor access for individual roles, such as Hiring Managers performing background checks.

6. Use Strong User Authentication

Cyber threat protection, like personal protection, relies on layers. Implement multi-factor authentication to make it more difficult for unauthorized individuals to access your systems—find a balance between usability and security that works best for your team.

Enforce strong password policies among your teams. Require complex, regularly changed passwords to protect your organization from easy cyberattacks.
8. Regularly Monitor Network Traffic

Surveilling traffic on your network can help identify unusual activity, such as unauthorized access attempts or malware communications. Having a record of network activity will also prove invaluable in the event of a data breach, providing you with a timeline and analysis of what happened. A log of network activity may also be required under industry regulations and data protection laws.

Consider Additional Coverage

As part of an overall cyber risk mitigation strategy, privacy breach coverage is effective in minimizing the impact of cyber threats on your business. In addition to covering expenses related to a privacy breach, certain comprehensive products such as Unica’s Privacy Breach Endorsement also offer pre and post-breach services including incident response planning, risk management tools and breach support. For smaller and mid-sized businesses, this can be an efficient way to implement stronger defenses against cyber threats and ensure liability coverage in the event a breach occurs.

For additional tips on combating cyber attacks and assessing your business’s preparedness levels, visit the Cyber Savvy resource centre from the Insurance Bureau of Canada. Stay vigilant!

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About Unica Insurance

Unica Insurance provides innovative niche Commercial and Personal Insurance solutions to protect VIP clients’ homes, vehicles and businesses. Delivering best-in-class insurance protection backed by a renowned claims experience, Unica allows its customers to safeguard their hard-earned assets and protect their momentum.
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