How to safeguard your small business with cybersecurity

Cybersecurity · Mar 8, 2024

Much of today’s discussion about
focuses on the fact that hackers are always evolving, updating their tactics, searching for new vulnerabilities, learning from past mistakes and becoming ever-more sophisticated. This is true and definitely important to keep in mind.
Another key challenge your business may be facing is simply that in today’s hyper-connected world, companies have had to significantly expand their digital footprint. You’re adopting new software tools, moving more data to the cloud, and allowing your staff to access company content outside your offices and even on their own personal devices.
These new digital workflows, combined with the fact that your employees aren’t learning how to protect your data, may be opening new doors for those ever-evolving hackers. Here are just a few examples of the dangers your business could potentially be facing.

You’re storing, accessing and sharing more sensitive company data across a growing number of cloud platforms

TELUS Canadian Cloud Security Study
found that businesses today are using an average of 8.5 different large-scale cloud platforms such as Amazon Web Services Microsoft Azure, Google App Engine, Microsoft 365, Dropbox, Slack, etc.
The average varies according to the size of the business. Large enterprises (1,000+ employees) use 8.1 different cloud platforms, while smaller businesses (under 250 employees) average 11.8 solutions.
If your teams are using the cloud-based services listed above (and possibly others as well), do you readily know whenever one of these vendors sends its customers a security warning? Do you always know as soon as these vendors issue patch recommendations or suggestions to move to an updated version due to a security vulnerability?
If your company doesn’t have a systematic process to receive and act on warnings you could be leaving your IT infrastructure wide open to cyberattacks.

Your employees are accessing company systems, apps and data on unsecured networks (outside your corporate firewall)

Ever since the pandemic, you likely have more employees than ever working either remotely or under some type of hybrid arrangement. That means more of your staff doing their work (and accessing sensitive corporate data) at coffee shops, restaurants and other public places over unsecured Wi-Fi and cellular networks. In fact, a
Mastercard Research
report found, cybercrime in Canada has increased more than 600 percent since the start of the COVID lockdowns.
Cybercriminals know the rise of remote work in the last few years means more sensitive, lucrative data than ever, including company logins and passwords, now traverses the internet outside the protections of the corporate firewall. 
Read the guide,
Protecting against cyber threats
to learn how to safeguard your customers, people and business. 

Your employees might be vulnerable to the most basic tricks in the hackers’ book

If you’re among the majority of businesses that don’t put employees through mandatory training on how to safely handle company data and digital systems, you could be facing an ongoing security vulnerability that all the high-cost cybersecurity tools can’t solve. As a 2023 study reported in
Security Today
found, 88 percent of data breaches against businesses are caused by employee mistakes, making it by far the leading cause.
Even if you’ve given your employees some
basic cybersecurity awareness training
and telling them, for example, not to open email attachments from unknown senders, you’re far from done. Keep in mind, cybercriminals’ tactics are always getting more advanced.
That means you’ll need to build a company culture where using cybersecurity best practices is a part of your employees’ day-to-day jobs, not a one-time topic only thought about during training. You’ll want to bring your teams together for regular refresher lessons, simulations to test their readiness, and introductions to new known attack strategies as soon as you learn about them.

Where do you start when implementing cybersecurity measures?

We’ve put together a comprehensive list below to help you develop a defence-in-depth (DiD) strategy. The following list of entry-level cybersecurity measures is a strong starting point from which your team can continually build a more comprehensive security environment.

1. Implement password-management guidelines and tools for your employees

Training your employees on how to create more complex passwords while stressing the risk of using simple or repeated passwords. Better yet, if you have the budget, find a
application that can create and monitor your staff’s passwords. Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) can also help add an extra layer of security beyond a username and password. 

2. Implement a patch-management strategy

According to the TELUS Cloud Security Study, chances are your employees are using between 8 and 12 different large-scale cloud services, such as Google or Amazon Web Services, as well as many other workflow applications. 
Take inventory of all the tools and digital environments where your staff creates, stores and accesses your proprietary data. Then you will need to create a process, or assign responsibility to one or more employees, to monitor these vendors’ notices about new patches, necessary system updates or security warnings.

3. Implement a secure data-backup and recovery solution

Backing up your data to a secure, offsite environment is an important step to take for several reasons, including the ability to quickly resume business operations if your primary systems fail or your area suffers a natural disaster. But keeping your data backed up and separate from your main corporate network can also help make you less vulnerable to a ransomware attack. If you can access your mission-critical company information even after the hacker encrypts and locks you out of your primary network, that cybercriminal can’t stop your business from running.

4. Train your employees on cybersecurity and update their training often

As effective as the right cybersecurity solutions can be if implemented and managed properly, their effectiveness can be undercut if your employees unwittingly hand the digital keys over to a clever hacker.
This is why it’s vitally important to create mandatory training to
teach your employees
, for example:
  • The most common phishing and other social engineering tactics
  • The dangers of opening files or clicking attachments from senders they don’t know
  • Security awareness to help employees detect and distrust unknown networks so they can avoid and report them
  • How to connect securely through a Virtual Private Network (VPN)
  • The need to create complex, difficult-to-guess passwords for all work-related apps, systems and devices
TELUS Business can help you streamline critical and time-intensive responsibilities like monitoring, maintaining and securing your technology so you can focus on your business.
Connect with a managed IT specialist today to learn how we can help with your evolving IT needs.
Authored by:
TELUS Business
TELUS Business