If you’ve ever used the Internet (which you have, unless someone printed this out for you), you’re probably aware that it’s not all rainbows and unicorns out there. If you’ve used the Internet and are a business owner, it’s almost certain that it’s crossed your mind that some of the less savory parts of this world can have a serious effect on your business.
From targeted ransomware attacks all the way down to bloatware installed by some haphazard link-clicking on the part of your employees - or you! - the attack vectors available for cybercriminals to exploit are many and ever-growing. A single cyberattack can potentially cost a business millions of dollars in lost revenue and legal fees, and in the worst cases can even force the business to close up shop, as is the case for 60% of small businesses that suffer cyberattacks, according to the US National Cyber Security Alliance.
When we’re talking about protecting from all manner of cyberattacks in your business (and your home!), this word seems to come up a lot: culture. What’s the culture surrounding cybersecurity in your business? Whether or not you’re aware of it, you have one. Let’s dive into how you can assess and adjust.
Asking the Right Questions
Before you can start to make any changes in your business, you need to know where you are right now. Start by asking yourself a few questions about cybersecurity at your business:
- Do I, or my colleagues, know what’s being referred to when ‘cybersecurity’ comes up in conversations?
- Is this a topic that’s touched upon in the process and procedure documentation at my business?
- Would I, or my colleagues, know what to do if a suspected cybersecurity breach occurred at my company?
- Am I using any tools - and if so, are they the right tools - to enhance cybersecurity at my business?
It’s not at all unusual for business owners to lack even basic knowledge about protecting from cyberattacks, so if you answered these questions and feel you might be falling behind, don’t worry! You’re not alone, and there are plenty of small, manageable steps you can take to protect yourself and your business.
Emphasize Leadership Accountability
You might have heard the phrase "a fish rots from the head" in your time growing and leading a business. This refers to the tendency of issues in organizations to begin at the top and propagate downwards. Luckily, this also means that as a small or medium business owner, you’re uniquely positioned to begin fostering the right kind of environment. You’ll need to follow a few essential security tips in your own life (both at home and at work) to set an example for others to follow.
- Use multi-factor authentication for every product that offers it. If a product does not offer some form of multi-factor authentication, think very carefully about what data is being stored by that product’s developers before choosing to hand it over.
- Utilize a password manager like Bitwarden or 1Password. Not only does this allow you to set unique passwords for all services you use, it actually makes for a more disruption-free experience as you move through your Internet life.
- Practice safe browsing and be careful what you click. Learn to recognize the signs of a phishing email (bad grammar? Malformed links? Weird sender address?) and, you guessed it, don’t click the links in these emails, or open attachments that you do not expect - even from people you know.
- Keep your software updated. This means setting those annoying auto-update settings to their most aggressive on your operating system and all the software you use. Can it be sort of a pain, sometimes? Yes. But we can guarantee it’s a lot less painful than the alternatives you’re risking by leaving yourself open to exploitation of unpatched vulnerabilities.
- Use a service like Control D. Utilizing Control D’s DNS management service can protect you from a whole whack of malware threats, as well as speed up your browsing and unlock a world of productivity tools. It turns out there’s a lot you can do when you can control your entire Internet experience. If you use this tool in your personal time - there’s even a 30-day trial! - you’ll begin to understand the ramifications that it could have on your business, too.
Invest in Your People and Write It Down
Okay, so you’ve assessed and you’ve taken the first few steps (if you hadn’t already) into setting an example for your employees. Now it’s time to broaden the scope and work out how to instill the values you’ve been practicing into your company.
If you care about your people, they’ll care about your business. You know this already, of course, and it extends without question to the cybersecurity culture at your organization. Once you’ve put into practice the above stuff, it’s time to start teaching it to your employees.
Start by writing down the key parts of cybersecurity that you want your employees to espouse in their work lives. This might differ between businesses - if a lot of your business is conducted by email, for example, you might want to put a specific focus on protecting against phishing attempts. If your workers are mostly remote, you’ll have different needs (like encouraging your employees to follow the steps outlined above to protect their personal networks if any business will be conducted on those networks).
Once you have your key points written down, you can expand on these to create a robust training program for your employees. This is important: next, you should sanction time for employees to learn and hone these skills, and make it an integral part of the onboarding process for new employees. Without these skills, they could bring your business down - it’s worth dedicating a day’s work to learning these.
You can also consider appointing special ambassadors for cybersecurity at your organization: for many driven employees who show initiative, learning and growing can be its own reward (though of course, we’d also suggest a raise for these shining stars!) - so consider signing up for LinkedIn Learning or Pluralsight for the benefit of those employees who wish to take their cybersecurity knowledge further and share it with their peers.
Level Up Your Control
Time to put it all together. Many tools on the market can help you assess and protect against cyber threats, log incident reports, and monitor your organization as its employees navigate the world wide web. Just like you wouldn’t conduct complex accounting manually, with cybersecurity, you’re better off utilizing the tools that best fit your organization’s needs. Control D’s state-of-the-art, ultra-customizable DNS service can be deployed at the router level or individual device level to ensure the safety of your, and your employees’, digital activities.
For remote employees, deploy Control D at the device level to ensure that regardless of where they are working from, your organization benefits from Control D’s protection against malware, phishing, and many other forms of cyberattack. You can also use Control D’s Activity Log feature to monitor remote employee productivity, ensuring that work time is well spent and that your employees are sticking to the parts of the Internet that make sense for your business.
For organizations that host guests and visitors including cafes, event centers, retirement homes, hotels, and schools, deploying Control D at the router level gives you a broader range of protection, both for your employees and your customers. You’ll be able to monitor traffic and free up your network's bandwidth, by blocking ads, trackers, and other cruft like endless scrolling on social networks that wastes your precious data, as well as your staff and your customers’ precious time.
With Control D, you have the choice: you can assess and adjust what happens on your network and you stay in control. If you’ve got questions or would like to discuss a custom price plan tailored to your specific business needs, you can contact us any time.