No good deed goes unpunished. Not in Greek mythology, anyway.
Take the case of Prometheus as a prime example. A hero among men and the object of the gods’ wrath. One god, in particular. The one you really don’t want to cross. Zeus.
In fairness to Prometheus, Zeus started it. Zeus hid fire from humanity. Not a fire. All fire. Which, of course, made for some cold nights. Being the clever, crafty problem-solver that he was, Prometheus decided to fix the situation. He stole fire from Zeus, returning it to humankind.
Zeus did not take the news well.
He sent Pandora to earth. She brought some fun things with her, like hard labor, disease and evil. And that’s not the worst of it.
As a more personal form of punishment, Zeus had Prometheus chained to a mountain where every day a giant eagle ate his liver. Because Prometheus was immortal, every night his liver regenerated . . . only to be eaten again the next day.
All because Zeus couldn’t tolerate theft, even though he kind of did it first.
Getting all philosophical.
Granted, the Greek gods were a trainwreck of soap opera-like antics. None of them, including Zeus, seemed to be above rash decisions, vengeance or debauchery. And yet, it’s not that hard to understand why both Prometheus and Zeus did what they did.
It is uniquely frustrating to be the victim of theft.
In fact, the Greek philosopher Aristotle believed there are some things that are always wrong, no matter the circumstances. His list? Things like murder, adultery and, of course, theft.
It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about the bully who stole your lunch in second grade or reaching for your car keys only to find your vehicle isn’t where you left it. It’s not fun when something that belongs to you gets stolen.
And when it comes to your business, few things are as upsetting as stolen information.
Why cybersecurity might be the most important thing you do.
Cybersecurity is a hot topic right now. You can’t turn on the news without hearing about a new ransomware attack or (yet another) data breach. The entire nation is still reeling from that massive Equifax breach, and we will be for years to come.
Of all the important things you do as a business leader, cybersecurity might be the single most important. That’s because cybersecurity impacts three different core elements of your business.
1. Your Data
With the kinds of cybersecurity disasters that tend to make national headlines, it’s easy for SMB owners to assume they’re relatively safe. If cyber thieves are going after the big fish, the pond is relatively safe for everyone else, right? Actually, no.
43% of cyber attacks are directed at small businesses. Let that sink in.
Just because your organization doesn’t have a global footprint doesn’t mean you’re automatically safe. Your company’s data still has value. There’s still a risk.
2. Your Productivity
Let’s consider a surprisingly grim hypothetical. You experience a cyber attack. The attack leaves your staff unable to work for a few business days. On the surface, that may not seem like a big deal—until you run the numbers.
22% of small businesses hit by a single successful ransomware attack have to stop all business operations completely. Even if they’re able to recover the same day, that downtime can get expensive fast.
Downtime is a profitability-killer. You can’t afford it. No one can.
3. Your Reputation
Successful cyber attacks kill something else, too. Your customers’ opinions of your business.
As Security Magazine warns, “The harm done to brand reputation can be long-lasting and hard to control . . . The appearance of negligence, repeat attacks or unpredictable fallout from a breach can significantly unravel public goodwill that took decades to build.”
Even small breaches make you look bad in the eyes of potential customers. And when the damage is done, it’s done. Then you have to rebuild, even if it takes years. It’s so much easier to avoid the damage to your reputation to begin with.
Getting your cybersecurity up to par.
So what does it take to protect your company?
In one sense, that’s a tough question to answer. It depends on so many unique variables. That’s why a lot of business owners prefer to work with a cybersecurity expert than to go at it on their own. It makes the process easier, and it dramatically improves the level of security protecting your organization.
But if you don’t have the money or inclination to call in a pro, there are still things you can do. And here’s where we share a bit of good news. The core elements of solid cybersecurity are pretty easy to break down.
Make sure you address all four of the following areas.
Cover the Basics
First things first—make sure you have the bare-bones essentials. We’re talking antivirus software on every PC, anti-spam protection for your email server and a firewall. These are the very same layers of protection you have at home (we hope!), so this shouldn’t be unfamiliar territory.
Back Up Everything
Onsite backups are important because they allow for the fastest possible recovery if you need them. Offsite backups are important in case something happens to your computers and your onsite server. Restoration is slower with cloud backups, but at least you don’t lose your data.
And that’s why backups are so critical. Without secure, redundant backups, you have no safety net. Anything from a corrupt file to a natural disaster can mess with your primary copy. Always keep a backup.
Some smaller companies don’t give a lot of thought to access. When your employee count is lower, it seems easier to grant everyone access to everything. After all, members of your staff likely wear a variety of hats. It’s easier to just open the digital doors wide.
Easier, but not wise. Every employee who has access to software, cloud services, servers and databases is a potential point of breach.
We know—that sounds really negative. Your employees are assets, not liabilities. That absolutely true, but it’s also true that it’s in your best interest to minimize cybersecurity risks. If your bookkeeper doesn’t need access to your sales database, don’t grant it.
Educate Your Employees
We’ve saved the most important point for last. Nothing will do as much to boost your cybersecurity as employee education.
Did you know that cyber criminals use one devious tactic to start 91% of breaches? Phishing emails. Phishing emails look like legitimate messages from trusted sources, but there’s all kind of potential malware hiding behind those seemingly innocent links and download buttons.
Ransomware attackers love phishing emails.
Just taking the time to help your employees understand how important it is to be careful when opening emails (and surfing social media sites) can go a long way to making your network more secure.
Don’t wait until you experience a breach or a ransomware attack to get serious about cybersecurity. Start taking steps today to protect your company. Even if you plan to partner with an expert (we recommend it), get started now with the tips included here.
Your data is the lifeblood of your business. Keep it safe.