Cybersecurity has been top of mind in recent years for organizations of all sizes. But with an increasing hybrid and remote workforce, cyberthreats have evolved and attackers have found new ways to target businesses. While many of the headline-grabbing cybersecurity attacks and breaches of late target large organizations, that does not mean that small businesses are not at risk. In fact, according to a recent survey by the U.S. Small Business Association, 88% of small business owners felt their business was vulnerable to a cyberattack.

Through education, technology and employee procedures, small businesses can work toward achieving a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy to prepare for and prevent cyberattacks. 

To celebrate National Small Business Week, Comcast Business has compiled a list of steps small businesses can take to build cybersecurity resilience:

Educate Users and Provide Regular Training 
Educating users on preventing and catching an attack is one of the best lines of defense and an important step to making a cybersecurity plan effective. It is crucial to provide regular training sessions for employees, especially as threats evolve, and to create a culture centered around customer and data privacy. Online courses, awareness campaigns, email reminders and routine anti-phishing campaigns are also an excellent way to consistently remind employees about the importance of cybersecurity. 

Implement Threat Monitoring, Firewalls and Anti-virus Solutions 
Defending a network and its assets requires a multi-layered, comprehensive approach. Firewalls only allow authorized traffic or content using configured controls, while anti-virus tools can detect and block malicious files. The addition of threat monitoring tools that actively intervene in cases of threats like malware, ransomware and phishing can also provide a solid base for cybersecurity.

Provide Secure Network Access
Maintaining end-to-end security continues to be a challenge for businesses of all sizes. A comprehensive plan includes firewall, endpoint and WiFi network security. WiFi networks, whether internal or customer-facing, are often targets and vulnerabilities can be found in even the most secure networks. A secure router in a safe location and strong network keys to join can help with this. With hybrid work, it is important to implement endpoint protection on company-owned devices to continually scan and update for the latest protections. Or consider adding a business-grade connection to remote workers’ home offices. 

Practice Password and Device Management 
Every device, whether personal or company-owned, represents a potentially vulnerable endpoint and provides a pathway into the network through apps and systems. Strong passwords are an important security measure to help combat this – and it starts with employees. Small business owners should encourage employees to create password combinations with numbers, special characters and upper and lowercase letters to make passwords harder to crack. Password management solutions are also a good way to safely store passwords and help employees remember them. Device management is equally as important, as regular updates often close previous security loopholes and flash drives or other external devices can carry malware that’s loaded onto a device when connected.

Create an Incident Response Plan to Stay Ready
Even with strong defense capabilities, cyberattacks can still occur on occasion. Therefore, it’s important to prepare a detailed plan for falling victim to a cyberattack or breach. To make things easier for employees, designate roles for them and detail how they should respond in an attack. Determining who will carry out each responsibility will also help the plan go smoothly. Additionally, include steps for recovery, such as if a breach happens while employees are working remotely or away, and make sure each employee is well-trained on the incident response plan.

It's unlikely that cybersecurity threats will go away any time soon. Crafting a comprehensive cybersecurity plan now is crucial and will help small businesses be ready for what’s next.