7 Reasons You Need a Small Business Cybersecurity Risk Assessment

When your network is running smoothly, you never really think much about it. Technology in-sync feels as natural as breathing. One small glitch, however, and your productivity is immediately derailed. Hiccups in your network are hard enough to deal with – but add in the uncertainty and panic following a cyber incident – and you could be facing devastating consequences. Downtime, lost revenue and lost data are only the start of your woes if your small business is a victim of a cyberattack.  

If you are worried about a cyberattack, you have good reason to be. According to a 2019 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report, 43% of cybercrime involves small businesses.  

The hacking of a small to medium sized business seldom makes headlines. It’s simply not as sensational as it is when it happens to a large corporation. The fallout is usually reversible for larger companies. Simply put, these corporations are in a better financial position to deal with the aftermath of a security breach. For the small business owner, however, the prognosis of recovery is bleak; 60% of small businesses will fold following a cyberattack. 

For the small business, there is no “safe” industry. Retail, accommodation and food service, healthcare organizations and financial services are all targeted. Even non-profit organizations are at risk. Hackers don’t care about your vertical. They need your financial information, your users’ credentials, and sensitive data like birthdates and social security numbers.  

Your business is appealing for cybercriminals because only 14% of smaller companies are adequately prepared to defend themselves from attack.  

You may already have antivirus software, firewalls, and other protections in place. Why would you need a small business cybersecurity risk assessment on top of it all? A small business cybersecurity risk assessment is an essential step to proactively understanding what’s working well and what’s not to protect your business, instead of waiting and hoping that hackers won’t find any gaps in your network’s security first. A hacker’s next move depends on your preparedness.  

What is a Small Business Cybersecurity Risk Assessment? 

A cybersecurity risk assessment highlights any asset or information that can be adversely affected during a cyberattack. Once these are identified, they are dissected even further to assess the risk to each asset, and the potential fall-out if each were targeted in a cyber-attack. 

Steps Taken During a Small Business Cybersecurity Risk Assessment 

Your cybersecurity risk assessment starts with a detailed look into your assets. Assets include all devices, all software, and sensitive information to name just a few. Once assets are all determined, they are given a value and assigned threat level priorities.  

Your risk assessment might look like this: 

Determine Asset Value: This is a deep look at your asset, going far beyond what you may have spent on the asset itself. It involves calculating the asset’s importance to a competitor, how much the asset contributes to your overall workflow, and how much your company would be affected by the loss of the asset. 

Calculate the Security Risk: What is the likelihood this asset will be taken, hacked, or destroyed? How easy would it be to take the asset or infiltrate the network through this asset? 

Predict the impact of a cyberattack against an asset: This is an evaluation that measures the potential impact of an asset’s loss through cybercrime. Some assets may have a more immediate and devastating effect than others if hacked. 

Weigh Cost of Asset vs. Securing the Asset: This combines hard data and the bottom line: how much would it cost your company to lose an asset, and how much would it cost to secure the asset against this potential loss?  

Implement Recommendations: After your small business cybersecurity risk assessment is complete, it’s time to implement the updated security recommendations to protect your assets. 

Reasons Your Small Business Needs a Cybersecurity Risk Assessment Now 

Why would you want a professional cybersecurity risk assessment? You already have an IT department, right? 

Not necessarily true anymore. Small businesses are less likely to employ full-time IT personnel, and those that do may find the department far too busy dealing with daily issues to take the time to perform a proper cybersecurity risk assessment. 

If you don’t have an IT department, it’s time to enlist the help of an MSP and let a team of pros evaluate your network. If your company does have an IT department, an MSP will partner with your internal IT and work together to formulate the assessment and implement the solutions. It’s far too risky to rely on software, and too complicated for your employees to try to launch this effort without professional guidance. 

There are many reasons to have a small business risk assessment performed at your business. Here are the top five. 

1. Information Gathering as Protection from Future Threats 

 This risk assessment will lay the groundwork for your overall IT security plans. This is the chance to gather all your business network information, including all vulnerabilities and the status of your current protections. 

Employee permissions, devices, software, backup solutions and more will all be evaluated during the cybersecurity risk assessment.  

The result of your cybersecurity risk report is a list of recommendations your business should make to shore up its defenses. While no plan can guarantee your company will never fall victim to a cyberattack, implementing your risk assessment solutions will add layers of security to your network. If an incident occurs, the damages can be reduced if these suggestions are followed. 

2. Increased Employee Cyber Awareness 

Part of your security risk assessment will most likely involve real-time employee testing to see how they respond to a simulated cyberattack. This will include a phony attack that involves fake phishing emails or “malware” attachments. Your employees will always benefit from a strategic cyber security awareness class, but these simulations give the analyst a good idea of your employees’ savviness in detecting potential hackers. 

3.  Developing a More Comprehensive Cybersecurity Plan 

Your analyst will weigh all the factors in your small business cybersecurity assessment and use them to customize a cybersecurity plan for your company. An IT strategy that includes “the big picture” means a more comprehensive plan that involves all aspects of your network and infrastructure. You may need to upgrade or update devices, change your business continuity plan, or adjust permissions for employees. Without your security assessment, you are just using a “cookie cutter” solution that may not cover your network completely. Remember that hackers are smart enough to find and exploit any vulnerability, no matter how small or unimportant it appears to be. 

4 Compliancy Check 

Regulations, guidelines and policies related to cybersecurity policy are released constantly. Your industry’s regulations are far different from any other. Healthcare regulations, for instance, are different than financial regulations. Allowing credit card payments online may include all existing industry regulations while also adding additional ones for customer protections. If your cybersecurity strategy doesn’t “cross the t’s and dot the i’s” of these regulations, you are opening yourself up for penalties and fines. A cyberattack that occurs because of lapses in your security are viewed far more harshly than ones that occur despite having a comprehensive IT solution in place. Your small business cybersecurity assessment will provide guidance on current regulations your industry currently faces. 

You will need to have clear cyber policies for all employees. On top of general training cybersecurity awareness training, your employees should be trained on any industry-specific cyber governances, such as HIPAA for healthcare and Financial Services Cybersecurity Profile for financial services.  

Your small business cybersecurity assessment will include any regulations and security levels your company needs to meet to keep your organization compliant.  

5. Protect Your Wallet 

Losses following a data breach can be direct or indirect. Any one of them alone is enough to have a significant impact on your business, but the accumulated losses are a combination of many factors: 

Liability to Customers: You are liable for any costs to customers, from stolen bank information to credit card fraud. Even if a “loss” didn’t directly affect a customer, you may need to provide an insurance policy of some kind. Equifax, for instance, provided consumers a choice of free credit monitoring services or a monetary settlement following their 2017 breach. Examples of the fallout following a breach can include: 

  • Lawsuits 
  • Lost employee productivity 
  • Direct financial loss 
  • Loss of intellectual property 
  • Fines and penalties 
  • Reputation damage 
  • Plummeting stock prices 

The aftermath of a data breach can have an even more personal impact on high-level executives. Target’s CEO Gregg Steinhafel “stepped down” following a 2013 data breach, and Equifax’s CEO Richard Smith “retired” shortly after the breach affecting his company. Many times, high-level executives are “sacrificed” to maintain brand integrity. 

As a small to medium sized business owner you may be in a more secure position than corporate executives, but you may still be held accountable for any data breach that occurs because of negligence and unpreparedness. 

Protecting a company from data breach fallout has become big business. Some insurance companies offer cyber liability insurance for businesses to help them settle their finances after a breach. 

6. Increase Employee Productivity 

Your small business cybersecurity assessment will help identify software issues, outdated hardware and many other vulnerabilities that could lead to a cyberattack. Many of these vulnerabilities can affect employee productivity as well. Older versions of hardware, incompatible software and many other outdated systems can drastically slow down your network and result in unplanned downtime and lower employee productivity.  

You may see employee morale rise as well; no employee is happy working at a sluggish, outdated workstation, staring at the “spinning wheel of death” and unable to perform basic job duties. According to a 2018 study, employees are over 450% more likely to leave employers who have outdated, lagging tech.  

7. Establishes a Baseline Report 

The first cybersecurity risk assessment will lay the framework for routine re-evaluations. It’s important to keep a record of your assessments so you have an idea of how your infrastructure is laid out, where your endpoints are, and each employee who has a device or advanced permissions for accessing sensitive data. Not only will you tighten your security, your IT team will have a better idea of how to quickly address issues if they should arise. 

Professional Small Business Cybersecurity Risk Assessment vs “Do-it-Yourself” 

There are many cybersecurity risk assessment software programs out there, and you could choose one and perform your own assessment. Before you do, though, keep a few things in mind: 

1. Boxed Solutions are Not Comprehensive 

A do-it-yourself option will involve one-size-fits-all IT solutions. Remember that your business is unique, and your IT strategy should be as well. Software and online free templates will leave gaps and vulnerabilities in your overall IT solution. 

2A Professional Team Will Work with Your Internal IT Department 

Having an internal IT department doesn’t mean you can’t get a professional evaluation and cybersecurity risk assessment. Your IT department will provide valuable information for the reports, and the teams will work closely together to provide a comprehensive IT solution for your business. 

3Some Industries Require a Professional Cybersecurity Risk Assessment 

HIPAA, FERPA and PCI-DSS are only a few governmental organizations that require a professional cybersecurity risk assessment. If you’re interested in purchasing cyber insurance, this report will be a requirement prior to being approved for a policy. 

4These Detailed Reports are Time Consuming  

A complete risk assessment will be time consuming for your employees. If they lack a technical background, even do-it-yourself software will be confusing for them. Bringing in some pros will save you time and make sure the job is done right. 

5A Professional Assessment Will Help You Defend Your Reputation in Case of a Breach 

An estimated 70% of consumers will stop using a business following a breach. Your customers don’t blame cybercriminals for breaches; they blame the business. Should a breach occur, you will spend time defending your employees, your brand, and yourself to the public. Having a small business cybersecurity risk assessment done can help you rebuild your brand by showing you took necessary precautions prior to the incident. 

Re-Evaluate Your Risk Assessment Results and Strategy Regularly 

The process doesn’t stop after you implement your risk assessment solutions. You need to re-assess your strategy and make sure it is working for your small business. Some questions you can ask yourself may be: 

  • Is the new email filter working for you and blocking spam and malware? 
  • Is all company-wide and BYOD equipment maintained and patched? 
  • Are the data back-up and recovery systems working and ready to deploy? 

Remember that threats are always changing and evolving. You need to routinely re-evaluate your IT solutions and repeat the cybersecurity risk assessment to make sure it is still an effective plan for your business. 

Iconic IT Will Help You Conduct a Comprehensive and Small Business Cybersecurity Assessment 

Some of this was news to you, but it certainly isn’t news to Iconic IT. We’ve been doing cybersecurity risk assessments for companies like yours for many years. We are your trusted partner in keeping your organization compliant, safe, and running smoothly with our small to medium business risk assessments. 

Contact us today for a free, no obligation consultation and let Iconic T show you how easy, affordable and effective our business cybersecurity risk assessment can be. 

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