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How to Increase Cybersecurity as Your Small Business Grows

 A young information technology technician smiles at the viewer. She is holding a laptop computer in her hands. Behind her is a modern open office workspace.

When partnering with a larger company, protect your business and your customers’ data. Ask your business partner about their cybersecurity practices and create a response plan. — Getty Images/gorodenkoff

Building partnerships with larger businesses is an important strategy for small business owners to increase the size and impact of their operations. However, each partnership with a third party is also a potential vulnerability for a cyberattack.

Small businesses are commonly targeted by bad actors for phishing scams, malware, and other attacks. According to Accenture’s Cybercrime study, small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are the target of 43% of cyberattacks. And when SMBs partner with larger companies, they risk opening themselves up to additional threats if certain security measures aren’t taken. Here are five ways to ensure your business partnership doesn’t make you vulnerable to a cyberattack.

Require full transparency and communication

As a small business owner working with larger entities, ask questions about your partners’ cybersecurity practices. For example, how do they handle data encryption? Is your business information secure with them?

It is also essential to confirm that your third-party partners have all the required licenses. Don’t just confirm that your partners comply with current legal standards. Ask questions to ensure that they are also working toward complying with your business’s cybersecurity practices.

Create an incident response plan both parties agree on

Small businesses can prepare for cyberattacks before they occur with a detailed incident response plan. Your plan should be tailored to address the threats unique to your business and should include protocols to follow for different types of cyberattacks. A plan should consider how you’ll preserve data and maintain business operations in the event of an attack or data breach.

Once you’ve crafted your incident response plan, reach out to your partners to ensure that the steps you’ve laid out work for all parties. You can also ask your partners to share their response plans to ensure they meet your security standards.

[Read more: How to Protect Your Business From Being Hacked]

Make sure you have backup copies of your essential data, including spreadsheets, financial documents, databases, and human resources information.

Look into third-party verification

Using an outside entity to confirm the identity of potential business partners is known as third-party verification. It also confirms that the business you’re verifying consents to a partnership or transaction with your business.

The process of third-party verification may involve having your prospective business partner answer questions, such as details about previous addresses or vehicles, to authenticate their identity.

Third-party verification also provides a transaction history that is maintained by the third-party provider. If the company you’re seeking to partner with claims they didn’t agree to certain terms, third-party verification provides an independent record of what each partner agreed to at the start of the relationship.

Ensure there are limits on who can access sensitive data

It is important to balance communication and transparency with limits on what information your business partners can access. You can increase your business’s security by applying access control protocols such as multifactor authentication, which requires users to provide two or more pieces of identification. You can also set predetermined levels of authorization for certain people or roles to limit access to sensitive data.

Maintaining access control requires ongoing effort. As roles and responsibilities change at your business or with your partners, it is necessary to update access control settings so individuals don’t have greater levels of access than what is necessary for them to perform their job.

Implement regular cybersecurity protocols

As you build partnerships with larger entities, you can protect your business from potential cyberattacks by adopting security standards throughout your everyday operations. Performing regular software updates and antivirus scans is critical to building a strong defense against attacks.

Make sure you have backup copies of your essential data, including spreadsheets, financial documents, databases, and human resources information. Scheduling backups to occur automatically can decrease the impact of a possible data breach or system shutdown.

You can also increase the security of your business’s Wi-Fi network. First, ensure that your Wi-Fi network’s name is hidden by setting your router or wireless access point to not broadcast the network’s service set identifier. Limit access to your router and Wi-Fi network by requiring passwords, as well as using encryption to protect the information being shared.

[Read more: Newly Remote Workforce? Take These 4 Cybersecurity Steps Now]

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

Applications are open for the CO—100! Now is your chance to join an exclusive group of outstanding small businesses. Share your story with us — apply today.

CO—is committed to helping you start, run and grow your small business. Learn more about the benefits of small business membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, here.

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Danielle Fallon-O'Leary

This post was originally published on this site

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