Managing Cybercrime as a Small Business: Where to Start?

The day-to-day operations of a small business are stressful enough, so cybersecurity often takes a backseat. SMB owners assume criminals have little to gain by targeting them. However, that sort of short-sightedness leaves companies open to potentially devastating losses.

Even if money is tight, you can fortify your business’s cybersecurity by adopting a few policies and tools. This article will help you set up a robust cybersecurity strategy you can expand on as your business grows.

Conduct Risk Assessment

The first step to devising a comprehensive security strategy is to identify the sensitive data you store. That could be anything from customers’ contact info and bank account details to R&D, marketing strategies, and other proprietary company data.

Examine where you store the data and whether a ransomware attack that can shut your computers down could make it unreachable. Depending on the severity, data breaches can endanger your livelihood and reputation. Assess the scope of damage one could do to your business and whether you’re already using any cybersecurity measures.

Strengthen Your Cybersecurity Policies

You can now start implementing sensible policies without spending a dime. For example, ensure that all the programs you already rely on, web browsers, and operating systems are running the latest versions. Criminals find workarounds sooner or later, so having the latest patches & security routines is a good deterrent.

Uninformed humans are the weakest link in cybersecurity. Whether through phishing, social engineering, or outright malice, employees can cause a lot of harm. The best way to mitigate it is to set up training sessions. This creates and strengthens a communal sense of responsibility for cybersecurity matters. Just taking the time to teach everyone how to recognize phishing attempts will pay for itself many times over. 

Informed employees will also cooperate more readily with other policies. For example, you should create a standardized list of apps & software employees can keep on their business phones and laptops. You’ll also want to set up an access hierarchy so that everyone can only interact with the data they’re responsible for. Stress that everyone should start using strong passwords and keep them to themselves.

Invest in Affordable Tools

Cybersecurity services and providers abound. That makes it possible to realize diverse, long-term protection on a shoestring budget. Many companies offer free or discounted plans tailored to small businesses. Inform yourself, shop around, and try a few before committing. Here’s what you’ll want to invest in:

Security software

By security software, we mean a suite that comprises tools like antimalware, antivirus, and a firewall. Phones and some operating systems come with these already. However, dedicated software from a trusted source will do better.

Password manager

Enforcing a unique password policy is easier if you get a password manager. They cost peanuts per person yet let you create, manage, and replace as many business account passwords as needed with a few clicks. 

Two-factor authentication

2FA bolsters strong passwords by adding another obstacle anyone needs to overcome before they can log in. Many password managers offer 2FA among their features. Free alternatives exist as well. Whichever you use, accounts will remain safe even if someone steals your login details.

Cloud storage

Backups are essential for your business to run without interruption, even if a ransomware attack succeeds. Cloud storage providers offer free storage for a few GB and reasonable rates if you need more. Data you store this way gets encrypted automatically and exists as multiple copies on several servers.

Develop an Incident Response Strategy

Acting on the suggestions above will make your business highly resistant but not immune to cybersecurity threats. A malicious insider or a determined hacker might still break through your defenses, and you’ll want a ready response for that grim scenario.

An efficient response rests on carefully developed processes and knowing everyone’s responsibilities during the crisis. It’s a good idea to periodically run data breach scenarios so everyone stays sharp. 

When an incident does happen, you’ll want to identify the threat, assess affected systems, and document everything. You should then take steps to contain the threat, ensuring it doesn’t erase evidence of itself or reach your backups.

Once the threat is in check, you can remove it and restore everything to working order. A successful resolution is an excellent learning opportunity. It helps refine your cybersecurity strategies and deal with threats even more efficiently in the future.


Small businesses leverage the Internet to grow, expand their reach, and create value for customers, potentially anywhere in the world. Accepting that cyber threats are another risk of doing business and proactively combating them will help you on the path to success. Investing in the right tools helps a lot. Still, the right mindset and willingness to make cybersecurity part of your company culture are just as impactful.