Many small business owners have long felt that they were relatively safe from the threat of cybercrime, assuming that cyber-criminals targeted only large corporations and multinationals. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth: Cyber-criminals are more than happy to prey upon anyone who may have money that can be swindled away. Criminals now see small businesses as soft targets, as they tend to have insufficient staff or resources to properly focus on security and protect themselves from attack. In light of this, small businesses owe it to themselves to improve security and minimize their chances of becoming a cyber-criminal’s next target.
Using CCTV is one of the simplest means of deterring crime, as a visible warning to thieves is often enough to make them look elsewhere. If a crime is committed, CCTV can provide crucial evidence and help recover stolen property. The London riots of 2011 serve as a great example of how effective CCTV can be: police watched more than 200,000 hours of footage, which led to the prosecution of approximately 5,000 offenders.
Whilst it isn’t something that most business owners want to contemplate, petty theft by staff is a common occurrence, and CCTV can help tackle that issue. Of course, it’s preferable never to have to use the CCTV footage to trace a crime, but having it in place does provide a level of security and reassurance that your business is protected.
This isn’t a low-budget option, but it does a remarkably efficient job of tracking items that have been stolen. Tracking software can come built into a vehicle or piece of equipment, or it can be attached to an item. The software transmits a constant signal to a central hub, so if the item or vehicle is stolen, the central hub can detect its location, allowing the police to trace and apprehend the thieves. Whilst phones, laptops, and tablets come with this type of system built in, tracking devices can also be fitted to valuable assets such as vehicles and equipment.
Indeed, this technology has proven so effective that police in California have begun to use it to catch thieves swiping packages from doorsteps. Lured by decoy parcels with concealed GPS trackers, numerous criminals were successfully caught.
Properly protecting your business’s IT systems and Internet connection is critical, no matter what size the business is. Criminals are constantly looking for ways to steal money, personal data, business records, and even technical documents. It’s estimated that cybercrime costs the UK economy £73 billion per year, and no business can afford to be complacent about security, since we are all potential targets. Ransomware, in which a hacker holds data hostage and releases it only after receiving a payoff, is fast becoming the most common threat businesses face.
Unfortunately, many cyberattacks originate overseas, which makes it incredibly hard for police to successfully track or prosecute those responsible. It also makes it very unlikely that victims will ever recover their stolen money.
The simplest and most effective way to protect your business is by educating staff about security. This education should cover physical security measures, such as being vigilant around the premises, as well as online security training. All employees should be trained to stay safe online and should be able to spot threats and suspected fraudulent activity. In an ideal world, all businesses would have a dedicated team to monitor and protect IT systems, but of course, that isn’t always possible for every business.
While younger generations may be more comfortable online and know the warning signs, those who did not grow up during the digital age may be less aware of potential problems. Various governments have taken measures to ensure that the students of today have at least a working knowledge of cybersecurity, but those outside the education system will have to find alternate sources of education.
It’s vital that businesses take security seriously and invest as much as possible in protecting themselves. Of course, preventative measures are better than reactive ones, but comprehensive plans do need to be in place to deal with security breaches if they actually occur. Even the simplest steps, such as robust password policies, can make a big difference and should not be ignored. Treating digital security as seriously as physical security will go a long way to protecting any business.
For more insight on cybersecurity, see The Future Of Cybersecurity: Trust As Competitive Advantage.