Owning and running a small business comes with a long list of tasks you need to accomplish and oversee, from finances, marketing, business deals, and everything in-between. Due to the demands on small but mighty teams, small businesses tend to overlook the ever-so-critical cyber security risks their businesses face.

Overlooking cyber security not only puts your company’s information at risk, the risk of your customer’s personal information falling into the hands of bad actors increases. Bad actors are those who prey upon the vulnerability of small businesses caused by a lack of knowledge, negligence, and poorly designed systems put in place to protect one’s enterprise from cyber-attacks. 

Among all of the things your business can do to distinguish itself from competitors, investing in your organization’s cybersecurity is a must. Branding your business as an entity that is dedicated to protecting non-public information can help your firm build trust among customers and set your brand apart in a crowded marketplace. 

If you are like most, you are wondering where to start. Recently, the Nahamani.org team sat down with Eku Williams, Senior Manager of Vulnerability & IT Audit at CyberSure LLC, to discuss cyber security and how small businesses can stay safe. Eku has over 20 years of experience in information technology and cyber security, he has worked as a business analyst, systems analyst, developer, and programmer. Within the last few years, he has partnered with RiskVersity to help businesses assess, prevent and put strategies in place to recover from cyber-attacks. Mr. Williams brings his vast experience working in various fields, including retail, financial, healthcare, and banking, which provides a unique and reliable perspective on the type of digital security your organization may need regardless of the industry in which your business operates.

So, what is cyber security, and how is it different from information technology?

Eku broke it down simply by explaining that information technology is focused on internal data. In contrast, cyber security is external and helps protect your data from the outside world, and most importantly, from getting in the hands of bad actors. “Bad actors, they live and breathe attempting to breach networks because that is how ransomware is placed on networks,” said Eku. According to Williams, Cyber security breaches can also be caused by human error, for example, opening up an email clicking links from fake addresses. So how can you protect your business and your customers from cyber-attacks? Eku gave us some practical tips that you can use to protect your company from cyber threats and bad actors. 

Educate Yourself and Stay Up to Date

Mr. Williams made it a point to stress that it’s essential for business owners to educate themselves on cyber security, the many threats out there, and ways one can protect sensitive information. “Education is key when it comes to [preventing] cyber threats right now,” said Eku. “[Small businesses] think not me, and the bad actors are thinking, ‘Oh yes you.’ ” Being proactive is your best defense against cyber threats. Take time every week to read up on the latest cyber technology and keep yourself educated on important ways you can protect your company from bad actors. 

Two easy ways to get started on educating yourself are to stay on top of the latest phishing scams and keep your network’s Firewall up to date. “As a small business, it’s the little things you can do to keep abreast,” said Eku Williams. 

Protect Yourself and Your Clients

It’s essential to ensure your website and information are secure from cyber threats for your company and clients. Making sure your information is protected from cyber threats isn’t just helping you and your clients but helping to maintain your business’ reputation. As a small business, your reputation is everything and making sure your online security is up to date and right-sized for your level of vulnerability is a critical way to ensure your business can endure. One of the ways CyberSure helps businesses is by conducting comprehensive audits of the firm’s security measures. {INSERT VIDEO}

Having worked in various fields throughout his career, Eku Williams noted the type of information that needs to be protected varies from one business to the next, thus it’s crucial to have the proper barriers in place. “You can say I have a door, I have a lock, but if someone can just wiggle your door and open it up, that door lock isn’t good,” said Williams. “So what comes from that is maybe putting on a bolt lock.” One critical way small businesses can protect themselves is to make sure they have the right insurance policy in place. Insurance policies that cover cyber threats are essential because they can save your business hundreds and thousands of dollars that would otherwise have to come out of your business’ till if your information is breached. 

Be Open About the Security You Provide

This is where your branding strategy comes into play. After all of the hard work in researching and setting up your cyber security measures, you need to let your clients know that you have security measures in place and are actively working to keep their information safe. You don’t need to tell them exactly how or where you’re storing their information, nor should you provide them with all of the finite details, but letting them know that you have protections in place, provides them with reassurance that you’re looking out for their best interest which in turn is sure to increase the likelihood they’ll recommend your business to others. 

It can seem like a lot at first, but taking the necessary steps to protect your business will pay off in the long run. Need help figuring out a starting point? Check out this video where he discusses some common risks that small businesses face. {INSERT VIDEO}

To help you protect your businesses’ information we created this downloadable infographic that you can print and keep near your PC for a friendly reminder of steps you should be taking to keep your information safe.

For all of the cyber threats out there, Eku is excited that people are starting to take cyber security seriously and are taking steps to keep their information safe and protected. “I think more and more people are becoming aware of cyber security, and they’re reaching out,” said Williams. “Now people want to be proactive rather than reactive when it comes to cyber threats and cyber security.”

If you’re looking for more personalized help or want to start working on a disaster recovery plan, reach out to CyberSure to get started today. Eku Williams and his team can conduct audits to detect threats in your organization’s cyber security and help you protect your business from cyber threats.  

Need help coming up with a branding strategy that promotes your cyber security benefits? Set up a consultation with Nahamani.org.