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Yahoo Small Business 2021 Predictions: Small Businesses Must Increase Investment and Education Around Cybersecurity in 2021

 vmblog 2021 prediction series 

Industry executives and experts share their predictions for 2021.  Read them in this 13th annual VMblog.com series exclusive.

Small Businesses Must Increase Investment and Education Around Cybersecurity in 2021

By Chris Wayne, CTO, Yahoo Small Business

With the recent high-profile cybersecurity attacks, one might assume that a small business would not be a "worthwhile" target for cybercriminals. In reality, bad actors consider small businesses easy targets: low-hanging fruit used to target not only the business's data and infrastructure, but also its customers and even suppliers. Verizon's 2020 Data Breach Investigations Report revealed that 43% of cyberattacks specifically target small businesses. With the influx of small businesses getting online in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, opportunities for cybercriminals to find exploitation are increasing. In 2021, small business owners must learn to better understand cyber risks and take action to protect their businesses.

Digital transformation in 2020

COVID-19 accelerated digital transformation in the small business sector, as it became paramount to survival. Whether that included setting up a secure remote work infrastructure or developing an online presence to enable e-commerce sales, COVID-19 led to a boom in the online ecosystem. This online migration will continue in the new year, and with it will come more opportunities for those with malicious intentions to identify vulnerabilities and attack. For non tech-savvy small business owners or leaders, this poses significant risks; lack of prioritizing cybersecurity and good cyber hygiene has the potential to bring down an entire business. This has amplified the need for cybersecurity tools, resources and education.

Prioritizing cybersecurity in 2021

How can small business owners become more cyber resilient in the new year? Where should they increase investment to help avoid, mitigate, and recover from cyberattacks? Here are three tips small business leaders can leverage to protect against and recover from cybersecurity attacks.

1.  Invest in employee education and training. Employees are the first line of defense against many cybersecurity issues; without education and training, they can pose the greatest risk to a business. However, with adequate training and proper processes in place, employees can be transformed into cyber-defenders. Providing specific training for jobs where employees have access to customer or supplier data is key, in addition to mandatory training and education on important issues such as spotting suspicious activity, and business procedures such as data retention policies.

2.  Adopt security tools and software. Leveraging security tools and software is an effective way to help protect against, mitigate, and recover from cyberattacks.

  • Adopt IT management software to detect anomalous behavior.
  • Invest in malware removal and protection software.
  • Implement additional layers of security such as multi-factor authentication.
  • Use a virtual private network (VPN) and ensure data backup strategies are in place.
  • Get an SSL Certificate.

3.  Outsource to, or work with, a trusted partner company. For small businesses that may not have dedicated IT staff, outsourcing security management or working with a partner company can be a strategic way to maintain good cyber hygiene and become cyber resilient. Cyberattacks against small businesses can be especially devastating, as they may not have the same resources to prevent, combat, or recover from cyberattacks as large enterprises. With increasingly sophisticated attacks, keeping data safe is becoming more difficult and even more critical.

Looking ahead to 2021

In 2020, the boom in the online ecosystem increased the need for robust cybersecurity strategies. As small businesses continue to digitally transform, there will be more opportunities for bad actors to find exploitation. Rapid digital transformation should not be done at the expense of maintaining good cyber hygiene. Investing in employee education and training, adopting security software and tools, and working with security advisors or partner companies can help small businesses uphold cybersecurity in the new year.

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About the Author

Chris Wayne 

Chris Wayne is the Chief Technology Officer at Yahoo Small Business, where he oversees engineering, production operations, support and more. Chris joined Yahoo in 2004 as a manager at the HQ Desktop Support, became the Chief Information Officer for Yahoo Small Business in 2015, and the Chief Technology Officer in 2018. He is a certified Data Center Management Professional (CDCMP). Prior to joining Yahoo Small Business, Chris was a combat engineer for the 82nd Airborne Division for the U.S. Army.

Published Friday, January 29, 2021 7:47 AM by David Marshall
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