Running a small or mid-sized business in Edmonton has its fair share of challenges. It takes a lot of hard work, dedication, and planning to secure the success of a business. However, even the best-laid plans can sometimes go awry, and that’s where being prepared comes in handy.
One of the biggest challenges facing businesses in Edmonton today is the risk of a cyber security incident. Not only are they becoming more common, but the impact and expenses related are also increasing dramatically. While it is impossible to guarantee 100% protection from a cyber incident, preparing in advance can help reduce your risk and help you recover faster if one occurs. This article will break down some ways that small and mid-sized companies can be ready for anything regarding cybersecurity.
Being Prepared For Anything as an Alberta Small Business Owner
Small and medium businesses (SMBs) are the backbone of any economy, contributing significantly to job creation, innovation, and economic growth. But these businesses face several challenges, including:
- limited resources
- cash flow issues
- intense competition
- a lack of technical knowledge and experience
One of the most significant risks that SMBs face is unexpected disruptions, such as natural disasters, cyber-attacks, and supply chain disruptions. Being prepared for anything is essential for SMBs because it enables them to weather unforeseen events and bounce back quickly. Companies that fail to prepare for unexpected events risk losing customers, revenue, and in some cases, going out of business.
In today’s digital age, technology plays a critical role in the success of any business. From managing finances to marketing and sales, technology and IT systems are essential for SMBs to remain competitive.
Relying on technology also means that businesses must prepare for potential IT disasters, such as:
- data breaches
- system failures
- cyber attacks
A robust IT disaster recovery plan can help SMBs minimize downtime and prevent data loss, ensuring business continuity. Being prepared for anything allows SMBs to adapt to changing market conditions, remain competitive, and minimize potential losses caused by unexpected events.
Have a Disaster Recovery Plan
Disasters can strike at any time, and when they do, they can cause a lot of damage to your business. Having a disaster recovery plan in place can help minimize the impact of these disasters on your business. Your disaster recovery plan should include:
- backup procedures
- data recovery methods
- communication plan for employees and customers
Because technology and your business are both evolving it is important to review, revisit, and train your staff on the Disaster Recovery Plan. Ideally, you would include your entire team in the planning process by running them through scenarios and gathering their input along the way.
Invest In Cyber Security
Cybersecurity is more critical today than ever, as small and mid-sized companies are often seen as easy targets for cybercriminals. Investing in cybersecurity measures like firewalls, antivirus software, and employee training can help protect your business from these cyber threats.
There is no such thing as a cyber security guarantee; every solution, product, or process will act to reduce your risk. Think of it this way, in the case of a car accident, it’s not just a seatbelt that can save your life. Vehicle manufacturers have implemented layers of protection – crumple zones, predictive braking, airbags, seatbelts, and more. These all work in unison to improve the safety of the occupants. It’s the same in cyber security – layers like patch management, antivirus, anti-ransomware, internet content filtering, firewalls, backups, and group policies all layer on top of each other to reduce your risk of falling victim to a cyber attack.
Use Cloud Technology
Using cloud technology can help small and mid-sized companies be more agile and responsive to changes in the market. With cloud technology, your employees can access company data and applications from anywhere, making it easier to work remotely. This can be especially helpful when responding to a natural disaster, flood, fire, or disease that keeps people away from the office.
Cloud technology can also give your business more flexibility and scalability, making it easier to grow your business as needed. This is one of the often overlooked benefits of using cloud services; your business is essentially “renting” a small part of a much larger and more powerful computing system. You pay only for what you use, and in most cases, you can grow or decrease your usage and costs proportionate to your needs at the time. This will help you save on large upfront capital expenses.
There’s no such thing as a 100% cloud company; you’ll still have local infrastructure like laptops, desktops, and maybe some file shares that need proactive, ongoing technical expertise to manage and protect. Tier 3 I.T. Solutions are experts in hybrid work technology designs and provide I.T. support services in Edmonton for businesses of all sizes.
Automation is valuable in helping small and mid-sized companies streamline their processes and reduce costs. By automating repetitive tasks, your employees can focus on more critical tasks that require their skills and expertise. Additionally, automation can help reduce errors and improve the accuracy of your business processes.
From a Cyber Security perspective, your IT team should be automating routine maintenance, patching, backups, and other routine tasks. This will help you ensure there is a consistent application of your security protocols, that all systems are treated equally, and, overall, will improve the dependency of your systems. Along with any automation, you should look to have automated reporting tied into the process to ensure all activities are on track.
Develop a Business Continuity Plan
A business continuity plan is a strategy for ensuring that your business can continue to operate in the event of a disruption. Your business continuity plan should include procedures for maintaining essential functions, communicating with customers and employees, and recovering from the disruption.
With cyber security, it can be difficult to develop a continuity plan since most business owners and operators are unsure about what risks, probable interruptions, and recovery options are even available. One best practice in this area is to work with your IT team and run scenario-based workshops. This will allow you to identify potential risks, explore the impacts of an event, and discuss and plan for the mitigation and recovery of such an incident.
Build a Strong IT Infrastructure
Your IT infrastructure is the backbone of your business. Having a robust IT infrastructure can help ensure that your business runs smoothly and efficiently.
It should include reliable hardware, software, and network components. You should also have a plan for regular maintenance and upgrades to keep your IT infrastructure up to date. Every piece of technology on your network should be considered equally, a vulnerability in a printer or an IP camera can cause just as much damage to your operations as a server. Replacing equipment on a regular basis is about more than just minimizing equipment failures. Operating systems and software packages regularly have their support and patching processes retired as well.
Implement a Disaster Recovery Solution
In addition to having a disaster recovery plan, you should also implement a disaster recovery solution. A disaster recovery solution is a set of tools and procedures for recovering from a disaster quickly. With a disaster recovery solution, you can minimize downtime and get back to normal operations quickly.
When reviewing your disaster recovery plans, it is important to consider your Recovery Time Objective (RTO) and your Recovery Point Objective (RTO). These two factors will help you to determine what investments you should make. For example, if your target RTO is 2 hours and your RPO is 6 hours, you will need to make a more significant investment than if you were to extend them to an RTO of 2 days and an RPO of 1 business day. Your IT department should be able to source, design, implement, and test these systems to ensure they will meet your needs in the case of an incident.
Conduct Regular Security Audits
Conducting regular security audits can help identify potential vulnerabilities in your IT infrastructure and cybersecurity measures. By doing this, you can identify and address these vulnerabilities before they can be exploited by cybercriminals.
A thorough cyber security audit will help identify points of risk within your systems and often exposes unknown vulnerabilities that could be exploited by cybercriminals. A detailed assessment will include the following:
- External vulnerability scanning
- Darkweb reporting
- Internal vulnerability scanning
- Patching reports
- Antivirus status
- Permissions reviews
- Multifactor Authentication assessments
- Cloud services scans
- And more…
Using a third party removes any bias that the IT department or provider may have injected into the process. Your security assessment should include technical and human elements to identify the most likely point of entry for a security threat. If you would like to schedule a free IT Security Assessment, please get in touch with us today.
Use Data Analytics
Data analytics can help small and mid-sized companies make more informed business decisions. By analyzing data from various sources, you can gain insights into your business processes, customer habits, and market trends. These insights can help you make data-driven decisions that can help your business grow.
It is critical that you know what data you have, how sensitive it is, where it’s stored, who has access, and how it’s protected. Businesses often have to start by building an inventory of their data before they fully assess their risks and design appropriate protections and recovery plans. Keep in mind that many cyber attacks now include an extortion component, where the criminals will steal some of your data and threaten to release it publicly if you don’t pay their ransom. Therefore it’s critical to implement proper protections and protocols to protect this data.
Develop a Disaster Recovery Team
In the case of a cyber incident, you will have many competing priorities that must be dealt with. Some of those issues are technical in nature; some are business problems. You need to have clear direction about who is handling each component and who your trusted partners and vendors are and allow each person to act fast to minimize the damage. Having a disaster recovery team can help ensure that your business is prepared for any disaster. Your disaster recovery team should include employees from various departments, including:
- customer service
- public relations
These employees should be trained in disaster recovery procedures and should be ready to take action in the event of a disaster.
Don't Wait To Get Prepared
Being prepared is crucial for the success of any Edmonton small business. By following the tips in this article, you can help ensure that your business is ready for anything.
If you’re interested in learning more about how our cybersecurity services can help your business stay on top of disaster preparedness, contact Tier 3 I.T. Solutions today.