Risk is inherent in any type of business endeavor whether you have a small or massive multinational business. When it comes to small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), the risks tend to carry greater consequences. SMBs are not able to “bounce back” as quickly from security incidents as larger companies because they do not have the resources, and it can be more difficult for them to get their brand back on track.
The risks that need to be considered cover a range of areas including risks posed by customers and staff, the market, IT, hackers, tech, software and more. It is essential SMBs find ways to mitigate as many of these risks as possible.
Conducting a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) is a good place to start. You need to be honest about the problem areas within your company, as this is the only way to locate and the mitigate risks.
While you can certainly assess the company on your own, you might find it beneficial to work with a risk assessment and management professional who can examine and audit your company. This is especially true when it comes to technology and IT risks. Professionals can provide you with an honest assessment of your security weaknesses and strengths.
A Look at the SMB Security Threatscape
Some of the most troublesome risks facing SMBs fall into the area of technology. Because many people have limited knowledge and experience with the “behind the scenes” of the tech, it has the potential to open your business up to a range of risks. Despite the risks, technology is still essential. Consider how much work is done through computers, tablets and even smartphones. People can work at the office, from the road or at home with ease. However, this can open them up to greater risks of being hacked or phished.
You also need to consider what you would do if your team were not able to get access to the web for a day or two. Would your business no longer be able to function? What plan do you have in place if this were to happen?
Would your customers and clients continue to trust your business with their information if a hacker breached your system and stole their private data? This has the potential to ruin a company, particularly a SMB that doesn’t have the finances to protect their brand when this sort of thing occurs. Even the biggest companies in the world can take a massive hit to their brand trust when this happens.
The best course of action is to act before any of these things occur. Take the time to train your staff, develop backup plans and understand the constant threats to technology. Understand that threats are evolving all the time, and you and the IT department need to stay abreast of these risks.
How to Manage SMB Security Compliance
Regulatory compliance is another issue that companies, including SMBs, need to face. Given the elevated level of tech dangers in the world, there are naturally more regulations regarding how certain information can be kept and what must be done in the event of a breach. Despite the fact you might be running a small- or medium-sized business, you still need to follow the same regulations as companies that are much larger than yours.
Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliance is one of the most prevalent types of compliance businesses deal with today. Some businesses avoid dealing with PCI and other types of compliance because they do not understand it or because they see compliance as being expensive. Ignoring compliance can be even costlier though, and it could affect your ability to take credit cards.
Your company must develop procedures to ensure you are complying with applicable regulations. Because it can sometimes be difficult to understand all of the different compliance regulations and how they affect your business, hiring a consultant may be beneficial.
Using a Security Consultant to Reduce Risk
Fortunately, you can find a range of companies that strive to help businesses manage their technology and reduce the risks of hacking while providing services such as IT auditing, security awareness, forensics, and database and application training. Training can be provided for many types of technologies used in the company to make sure all your personnel, along with IT, have the training and skills they need to recognize threats and mitigate dangers to your business.
Technology can be a fantastic tool. The Internet, applications, software and hardware have made conducting business easier for SMBs. However, it is vital you never underestimate the potential risks that technology brings. Having proper training can help, but training alone might not provide you with the protection you need.
Some companies do not have large IT departments, and they need some outside help. The best way to get more help is to work with outsourced security teams. Your internal IT staff can take care of the daily tech-related problems of your business, while the outsourced team manages your information security.
Why You Need a Risk Management Plan
Today, it is hard for a business to succeed. They have a substantial amount of competition, they need to make sure they have steady cash flow, and they need to protect their brand and reputation. They need to embrace online and offline methods of doing business, and they need to make sure they are utilizing the right types of technology to help keep them safe.
By taking the time to develop a risk management plan that includes internal and external threats, especially threats coming from hackers, it can vastly improve your company’s chance of success in the event of a breach.
- Risk management guide for small to medium businesses, CPA Australia Business and Management Centre of Excellence
- Risk Management for Small Business, U.S. Small Business Administration
- A simple framework for SMB IT risk management, TechRepublic
- Creating a Risk Management Plan for Your Small Business, Investopedia