When ‘Later’ Never Comes: Putting Small Business Cybersecurity First

July 16, 2021
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2 min read

Small- and medium-sized businesses can be victims of digital attacks as much as global ones can. In fact, 88% of small business owners think they’re open to a cyberattack. In response, startups must allocate time and resources to getting the right small business cybersecurity measures, right? If only business realities were that simple.

Let’s talk about startup culture for a second. What do you envision when you hear ‘startup’? Mark Zuckerberg, Silicon Valley, cold brew on tap, standing desks and a race to the finish line? You probably don’t think about late nights obsessing about small business cybersecurity. And therein lies the problem.

The Issue With Small Business Cybersecurity 

There seems to be a conflict between the culture of startups and best practices for strong security. Security experts have been shouting this mantra from the rooftops for a while now: We need digital protection built in from day one. But that doesn’t sound very appealing to startup founders.

Instead, startup founders want to inspire their employees. They want to help them dream about what their product can do for the world and they want to beat their rivals. They want to rush forward and build now, think later. There is a lot of pressure to deploy software overnight and fix bugs later, but later never comes. This mindset of nudging developers away from caring about security and letting the experts handle it might be hurting them in the long run. When the most important job is to innovate without thinking about small business cybersecurity, startups only add to the already growing attack surface.

Why Should Startups Care About Small Business Security?

Whether it’s thinking they’re not attractive or worthwhile targets for cyberattacks, indifference towards suffering a breach or simply not future-proofing their company, startups need a wake-up call.

A successful cyber breach can be the kiss of death for small businesses, including startups. More and more, people care about their data and are holding companies accountable for safeguarding it. In fact, most small businesses that have been compromised reported that it affected their good name, which in turn hurts their growth. There is nothing like receiving an alert that your personal identification has been compromised to turn you off from a company.

Where Can Change Come From?

Startups need to change their culture — and that is best done from the top down. Founders need to face the fact that creating a business without including small business cybersecurity in the planning process opens it up to major risk. Once leadership makes this more important than process, time to launch and beating rivals, they can start to instill digital defense best practices into employees. Startups should encourage employees to speak up and point out potential problems. Let them know it is okay to slow down the process if needed.

Teaching your employees what bad small business cybersecurity looks like can go a long way. Training programs should be a standard for every employee. Here’s a rule of thumb — if they have a computer, they need training. What are the areas in which employees need to be trained? Here are a few:

Knowing the basics and the concept that employees should keep an eye on the company’s security breeds accountability. Leaders and employees, let’s work together to reduce risks and make the world a more secure place.

Tally Shea
Lead Social Strategist, IBM Security

Tally Shea is the current Lead Social Strategist for IBM Security. She's discovered an interest in the cybersecurity field and hopes to pursue a career in th...
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