A cyber-attack can devastate a small business.

Whether it’s a data breach, ransomware attack, phishing attack, or a distributed denial-of-service (DDOS) attack, the consequences of your business’s and customers’ data being stolen or compromised can result in financial losses, harm your reputation, and possibly lead to the closure of your company. Data breaches and ransomware attacks are among the five most common cyber liability insurance claims.

Many small business owners may not be aware of the likelihood of falling prey to a cybercriminal, thinking they’re too small for a crook to target. That’s not true. In reality, small businesses are often a primary target for attackers because they assume small businesses don’t have the defences in place to thwart them.

Small business cybersecurity strategy

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Data tells the tale:

  • In the first quarter (January to March) of 2023, Statista reports more than 167,000 data records were exposed through data breaches in Canada.
  • The Canadian Centre for Cyber Security reports fraud and online scams are the most common form of cybercrime, with more than 700,000 instances of fraud last year linked to over $530 million stolen from companies and individuals.
  • An IBM report on the cost of data breaches in 2023 finds the average cost of a data breach is nearly $7 million, and phishing attacks account for 17% of breaches experienced by Canadian companies. 
  • A 2023 report from PriceWaterhouseCoopers, a research consultancy, says ransomware and data breaches will continue to be the most significant threats to Canadian businesses.
  • According to Trend Micro, Canada was the third most affected country in the world for successful ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) and extortion attacks in the first half of 2023.

Even if you don’t believe your small business is at risk despite the above, you may be exposing your supply chain partners, customers, and employees’ personal data to cybercriminals by not taking action to bolster your cybersecurity defences.

That’s why it’s time to establish or refresh your cybersecurity strategy. Here’s how to do that:

What a Cybersecurity Strategy for Small Businesses Should Include

An effective cybersecurity strategy doesn’t need to be complex, time-consuming, or expensive. 

Taking simple steps to shore up your defences and improving your knowledge of potential cyber threats can go a long way to protecting your company. For example, understand the different types of phishing attacks so you don’t fall prey to one.

There are many inexpensive, straightforward ways to flex your cybersecurity muscle and mitigate the risk of suffering an attack, such as:

  • Keeping your operating system and software up-to-date.
  • Have cybersecurity policies in place for your employees to follow and train them on spotting potential cyber-attacks.
  • Regularly backup and make backup copies of your company’s data and house them in an encrypted cloud storage and on an external hard drive that’s not connected to the internet.
  • Ensure your company Wi-Fi is password-protected, and consider installing a VPN (virtual private network) to disguise its location.
  • Consider investing in passkeys for your business and employees to do away with passwords or require employees to change their passwords every three months and create strong, unique passwords. For passwords, invest in password manager software to generate and store all passwords in a secure location instead of saving them in a browser.

How to Report a Cyber-Attack on Your Small Business

If your small business is the victim of a cyber-attack, it’s recommended to take the following steps immediately:

Protect Your Assets With Cyber Liability Insurance

If you’re subjected to any form of online fraud or cyber-attack that causes damage or loss to your business, cyber liability insurance can help you with the financial impact of a cyber-attack. Without it, you’re on your own to pay the costs of dealing with the fallout of an attack.

A cyber insurance policy from Zensurance is designed to help pay for costs following an attack by:

  • Covering the cost of accessing a dedicated team of experts to help you coordinate a response following a cybercrime.
  • Paying for legal advice, notification fees, crisis management services, and credit monitoring.
  • Potentially paying for any compensation that the courts may award against your business if you are found responsible.
  • Repairing and restoring your software systems that may be affected.
  • Covering financial losses sustained because of a system or website outage due to a cyber-attack.
  • Reimbursing you for funds lost due to a phishing attack or social engineering fraud (an optional coverage you can add to your policy).

Protect your data, money, customers and reputation. Fill out our online application for a free cyber liability insurance quote. 

Our knowledgeable brokers can find a low-cost policy to suit your needs and budget from one of more than 50 insurance providers in our partner network and customize it to suit your specific requirements.

– Reviewed by Michael McDermott, Director of Underwriting, Zensurance.

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About the Author: Liam Lahey

Liam is the Content Marketing Manager at Zensurance. A writer and editor for more than 20 years, he has been published in several newspapers and magazines, including Yahoo! Canada Finance, Metroland Media, IT World Canada and others.