We live in a professional world fascinated with new business structures, opportunities in e-commerce, social media outreach and digital offers presented at physical locations. Today’s small businesses are rapidly growing in number, becoming firm foundations upon which innovative, expansive selling networks are nurtured.
To grow successfully, however, a small business must face the trials of online threats. Much in the way individual Internet users face risks posed by malware, hackers and phishing schemes, small businesses face direct attacks by malicious users keen on acquiring collections of valuable data.
Meeting Security Benchmarks as a Small Business
As such, most of today’s small businesses have adopted powerful—yet highly accessible—digital security tools to prevent, identify and eliminate digital dangers. A VPN, for example, isn’t a simple option for businesses who engage their customers online. It’s a necessity. If one can understand how a VPN works, they secure a high degree of ongoing safety for many years.
This safety is much-needed, too: About 60 percent of SMBs are forced to shut down within the six months following a cyber-attack. Cyber attacks target small and mid-sized businesses specifically—as they’re more likely to have larger networks with security gaps. While a sole business owner might conduct work on a single desktop—or even a smartphone—their Internet connection tends to persist on a single, secure, connection. Businesses, meanwhile, must often adopt public access points for on-the-go employees and customers alike.
To fully understand the potential of an effective digital security setup, it’s a good idea to learn about the threats they defend against. Take a look at the top 5 reasons your growing small business needs to protect its data at every turn—as it just might save it.
1. To Protect Individual Employees
While digital attackers might prefer small businesses as lucrative targets, they frequently intend to exploit the business’s individual data accounts. Fortunately, modern privacy protection makes personal data security more effective than ever. Even so, a small business owner that doesn’t cover the entire scope of its digital activities leaves its accumulated data exposed regardless. A single, sweeping digital security system might seem like it provides comprehensive protection—but it’s surprisingly more vulnerable to attacks than multiple security controls with shorter reaches.
This is because small business employees are typically connected by a network of individual devices. If a single digital security system protects these employees in unison, a security breach can easily cause a chain reaction—one which rapidly acquires data from an exposed network’s many entry points.
If you implement high-quality data protection protocols for individual employees, however, you can stop cyber-attacks at the front doors of every individual device. Then, any employees which might’ve been harmed by the theft of their data will be protected.
2. To Boost Brand Value
While digital security should never be pursued to boost one’s reputation, its effective implementation can certainly increase its perceived worth across both business and consumer networks. A Forbes Insights study which covered businesses recently attacked by cyber-criminals found that an astounding
46 percent experienced “brand perception damage.” These businesses seemed far less secure after being successfully breached—and potential customers who found out turned to other providers instead.
While a small business can lose a lot of money due to this type of reputational damage, they can nurture healthy brand growth under the moniker of an ironclad digital security platform. Any business that outwardly expresses its supreme concern and protection of its customers tends to receive admiration in return. Consumers are already wary about buying products and services online—especially from brands they’re unfamiliar with.
Needless to say, they’re even more untrusting of branded links they encounter on social media—and even on search engines. E-commerce portals are a necessary step to buying a product—so online shoppers will still engage them. As for the optional content extended to these consumers by the same brand—not so much. Still, it’s possible to gain enough trust among consumers if a business’s security is renowned for its impenetrability.
As a rule of thumb, businesses which successfully do this must also update their digital security platform constantly. While shoppers might not know that a business’s protective architecture is obsolete—online attackers will. It takes only a single successful assault on a business’s stored data to tarnish a brand’s reputation forever.
3. To Gain Loyal Customers
In the same way powerful security standards increases a brand’s perceived value, the same standards tend to increase the impact of customer retention approaches. It should be known that a business which is robbed of its customers’ data can lose nearly half of its entire consumer population. This impact is even higher if the business offers products or services revolving around phones, televisions, Internet-related products and insurance.
A common misconception exists that considers large corporations face the most risk when conducting services online. Businesses of all sizes can lose customers if they’re breached: In a study conducted by Bank of America, it was discovered that an estimated 40 percent of Americans, at one time or another, have had their personal information stolen. Of these victims, 20 percent chose to never again engage a small business that’s been breached.
4. To Get the Most Out of Your Insurance
Commercial insurance policies are numerous and diverse. Because a policy can be molded to fit a business’s unique architecture, a business’s quality of data protection can directly influence the price of insurance altogether.
While lower insurance expenses are certainly nice, a business should be more concerned with the amount of money they could lose if their security fails to protect its employees—and, more important, its customers. A data breach might result in stolen personal information, but the lasting impacts of the robbery itself can be fiscally devastated.
A breached business must contact their insurance company to file a claim for protection—but even the most comprehensive cyber liability insurance plans can be rendered useless in the wake of critical data loss. If a commercial insurance company must then cover a breached business’s reputational losses, it can quickly become a major problem in terms of additional payments down the road.
5. To Gain Better Industry Traction
The threat of cyber-attacks is constantly present—but day-to-day small business challenges can’t be forgotten about. As every small business owner knows, it’s difficult to expand if their brand only recently emerged into their industry. A good data protection strategy frees up quite a lot of resources otherwise spent on constant surveillance—and these resources, when allocated to brand growth, become valuable enough to cover additional security costs.
By keeping your small business digitally secure, you’ll also gain a competitive advantage by attracting more customers. Remember: Consumers are more likely to stick with a brand that protects them. Internet users, likely, will be concerned about digital safety forever. This is justified, as the digital world will always host those with malicious intentions.
If you continuously nurture your small business’s level of cybersecurity, you’ll find that it’ll begin attracting more consumers than ever before. Only the most defensible brands survive, year after year, to encounter new growth opportunities. So, even if top-tier security is an intimidating investment—it’s also intimidating to digital thieves. At the end of the day, such an investment is worth it.