Every week as SmallBizLady, I conduct interviews with experts on my Twitter talk show #SmallBizChat. The show takes place every Wednesday on Twitter from 8-9 pm ET. This is excerpted from my recent interview with Brian Moran @brianmoran. As the Founder & CEO of Brian Moran & Associates, Brian is dedicated to helping entrepreneurs to run better businesses. Brian is leveraging his 20+ years of experience in publishing magazines for business owners (The Wall Street Journal, Inc. magazine, Entrepreneur magazine) to assist entrepreneurs with everything from social media to accessing growth capital to expanding into the global marketplace. Brian is a graduate of Marquette University’s School of Journalism. You can connect with Brian by visiting the company web site.
SmallBizLady: You have partnered with @NortonOnline to promote the #CSPledge what is that?
Brian Moran: It’s about making a pledge to continue to take steps to improve your cyber security throughout the year by updating passwords, software programs and more. You can learn more by following #CSPledge on Twitter. I’m proud to team up with Norton to help educate small business owners and entrepreneurs on how they can better protect their businesses from cybercriminals.
SmallBizLady: Why should small businesses resolve to be better about cybersecurity in 2015?
Brian Moran: Because we need to be better at it! A Norton survey of small businesses found about half (46 percent) are confident they are well-protected against computer viruses and malware. And while close to half of small businesses understand how to protect themselves from theft (47 percent) and have a security system installed (78 percent), only about one in three (31 percent) understand how to combat today’s cybercriminal.
SmallBizLady: What are unique challenges small businesses face when it comes to cybersecurity?
Brian Moran: Let’s face it, at small businesses we may not have the tools, staff or resources to help protect our businesses online.
SmallBizLady: How have cybersecurity attacks affected small business?
Brian Moran: The recent survey by Norton found that, on average, Internet security issues have cost businesses an average of $9,600 over the past five years. Problems resulting from Internet security issues or incidents have cost the average small business $1,600 and two days of lost work time over the past year.
SmallBizLady: How are small businesses managing cybersecurity?
Brian Moran: It varies, but in the 2013 National Small Business Association technology survey, you find that a majority of small businesses handle it internally. Thirty-nine percent report doing it themselves and 33 percent report that a member of their staff handles it. But in that same survey, 1 in 4 small firms have little to no understanding of cybersecurity issues whatsoever.
SmallBizLady: What should small businesses know about how to secure their small business?
Brian Moran: This blog post on Norton community’s security blog nicely highlights four things small businesses should know about how to secure their small business:
- Small businesses often experience a greater risk from hackers, malware and other security threats.
- Security updates for your computer operating system or software often arrive too late. The top five threats in 2013 exposed this, and had 19 days of total exposure and took an average of 4 days to patch. Without a protection system that is both proactive and thorough, you’re leaving your company open to lots of vulnerability.
- You can have complete protection even when resources are limited. Being resource and budget conscious does not mean you have to forgo protection. With easy-to-implement and easy-to-use security offerings – like Norton Small Business available at Staples – you can protect your small business from security issues.
- Understand that not all security products are created equal. Look for security products that stand out in these three key areas: ease-of-use, speed and effectiveness.
SmallBizLady: In many small businesses, there are freelancers or telecommuters using their personal tech devices. What are your thoughts on that and cybersecurity?
Brian Moran: Using personal devices has benefits and drawbacks. On one hand, employees can focus on getting down to business as they are comfortable with their personal devices. On the other hand, it’s potentially exposing private company data. The Norton survey found that more businesses have a security system installed on their desktops (98 percent) and laptops (96 percent) than on their tablets (65 percent) or their smartphones (56 percent). According to Osterman Research, 15 percent of employees believe they have “none to minimal” responsibility to protect corporate data stored on their personal device. The Staples Small Business Hub has a good article on security tips and tricks for the remote office:
- Look into virtual networks or cloud services which can help protect and control data stored on the main office servers.
- Set up automatic updates for essential software, which helps lower the risk of malware spreading through the network. Also consider instead of users using their own device, have them choose from a list of pre-approved devices that already have the software uploaded.
- Use wireless encryption.
- And don’t neglect physical protection, such as a secure lock, alarm system, fireproof safe or paper shredder.
SmallBizLady: What about cybersecurity in the age of social media?
Brian Moran: Social media is crucial to small businesses. To make sure you’re protected, here are three tips from Norton:
- Set a social media policy for your company and employees.
- Actively moderate customer comments on your social profiles.
- Secure your social profiles with strong passwords, and whenever possible, two-step authentication. Only provide posting access to employees you trust to represent your business.
SmallBizLady: What should you do if you fall for a scam on Facebook or Twitter?
Brian Moran: Hopefully this won’t happen, but if your business does fall for a scam on Facebook, here’s what to do:
- Remove the spam from your feed so no other people can fall victim to it.
- Change your password immediately, even if you don’t think scammers have access to your account.
- If you were tricked into downloading an app, remove it.
- Run a virus scan
- Create a post on your feed notifying followers and friends of the scam, informing them not to click.
- Report the scam to Facebook and Twitter.
SmallBizLady: What about mobile security?
Brian Moran: Smartphones are crucial to small businesses, and cyber attacks also affect this specific technology. A 2013 Norton report found 38 percent of mobile users had experienced mobile cybercrime. Of those surveyed, only 50 percent reported taking basic safety precautions. Mobile apps are target for cybercriminals. To protect yourself and your business, only download the app from a legitimate marketplace, read the app reviews, look at the developer and do a search of the app online.
SmallBizLady: If I’m a small business owner and don’t feel comfortable managing my own cybersecurity, what would be another option?
Brian Moran: Last year, I teamed up with Staples on their EasyTech Total Support service. It was an eye-opening experience. I know how much I rely on technology to run my company. What I didn’t realize was how little I do in terms of maintaining and taking care of the technology I rely on so heavily. The EasyTech team can help walk you through and install programs, such as Norton Security. In your first visit too, the EasyTech team will scan your laptop for viruses and help with virus removal.
SmallBizLady: What do you think is the most critical thing for small business owners to consider about cyber security right now?
Brian Moran: It’s better to take precautionary and proactive steps now with cybersecurity than wait until a problem arises. As small businesses set goals for 2015, I challenge small business owners to review their cybersecurity protocol, programs and processes. Have an open dialogue with your employees and IT staff.
If you found this interview helpful, join us on Wednesdays 8-9 pm ET; follow @SmallBizChat on Twitter. Here’s how to participate in #SmallBizChat: http://bit.ly/1hZeIlz
For more tips on how start or grow your small business subscribe to Melinda Emerson’s blog http://www.succeedasyourownboss.com.