(BPT) - As cyberattacks become more sophisticated than ever, small business owners need to take action or face some potentially devastating consequences. Contrary to popular belief, an estimated 43% of all data breaches involve small businesses, not large corporations. Even more alarming, another study found that 60% of small businesses who fell victim to cyberattacks closed their doors within six months. From these two statistics alone, it’s clear the stakes couldn’t be higher.

According to experts, three of the biggest cybersecurity threats to small businesses are ransomware, direct larceny attacks and compliance issues. Ransomware is a type of malware that locks you out of your system and encrypts your data, holding it hostage unless you pay a ransom. It’s damaging to small businesses because of its impact halting business operations. Larceny attacks are more straightforward, with hackers stealing money or valuable data by infiltrating your system. Lastly, if you’re not properly guarding customer data, these kinds of attacks could lead to serious compliance issues and potentially some very large fines.

To prevent these threats from impacting your organization, the key for small businesses is to be proactive. Here are four cybersecurity tips on how to keep your small business protected.

1. Have a plan to prepare for cybersecurity threats

You probably have a plan for your company’s physical security, why not cybersecurity? Taking the time to create a plan to prepare for a cyber incident will not only better protect your business, but it will help you recover much more quickly should an attack occur. At minimum, your plan should answer the following questions:

  • Where does data live in my system?
  • Do I have backup systems in place?
  • Where is my data stored?
  • If an attack happens, what is my response plan?

The simple truth is that bad actors are looking for easy targets. If you can make yourself even a little less desirable and a little harder to infiltrate, you’re much less likely to suffer from an attack. Writing down your cybersecurity plan is the best place to start.

2. Upgrade your prevention efforts with new technology

Just as cyberattacks have grown more advanced, so has the technology to guard against them. Security tools like advanced malware detection use machine learning to identify and prevent cyberattacks. If you’ve been using the same security software for years, it’s time to upgrade to the latest protection.

If you’re not sure which security system is right for your business, consult with experts like those at Dell Small Business who can make recommendations and provide further information about how to best protect your business.

3. Encrypt, encrypt, encrypt

Encrypting your data may be the simplest and most effective way to protect your business, especially from threats like ransomware. Encryption changes your data into a code so that anyone who wants to read that data will need a key or password. Encryption is a fundamental starting point for protecting your data, making it much more difficult for hackers to access.

4. Partner with a cybersecurity professional

Many small businesses use IT vendors to manage their digital infrastructure and troubleshoot any problems that may arise. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that. But the person who fixes your printer or resolves your slow internet connection shouldn’t be the same one guarding your most valuable company asset — your data. To truly protect your business, you need to enlist the help of cybersecurity professionals. By partnering with a firm dedicated to cybersecurity, you get true expertise and help to ensure your system is always protected against the latest threats.

The risk of cyberattacks on small businesses is real and the consequences could be devastating. But by formulating a plan and executing that plan with the latest technology and professional support, you can better protect your data and feel confident that your business is secure.

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