essentialsCybersecurity is no longer a matter solely for high-profile targets in the finance sector and other large enterprises. Today, small businesses are increasingly seen by hackers as tempting targets, and many are focusing their efforts on infiltrating these organizations. Why?

Small businesses in virtually every industry now possess significant amounts of valuable, sensitive data, and cyberattackers recognize that these organizations tend to have far less rigorous cybersecurity than more stereotypical targets.

To remain safe in this dangerous environment, small business leaders should consider taking these basic steps.

1. Recognize the danger: Most importantly, business leaders need to understand that the idea of “It’ll never happen to me” is simply not true. Every organization can be a target and therefore requires IT security.

Next, business leaders must recognize which assets they possess that cyberattackers would be eager to obtain. Only those firms with a complete understanding of their own assets and their value can hope to protect themselves and their data.

“Companies devote 87% of their security budgets toward firewalls.”

2. Look beyond the perimeter: In the past, most cybersecurity centered around protecting a company’s perimeter via firewalls and other tools. But as the BBC recently explained, this mode of thinking is outdated. Speaking to the source, Tim Grieveson, chief cyber strategist for Hewlett-Packard, noted that companies devote 87 percent of their security budgets toward firewalls, even though they have become far less important for achieving data security. Instead, the source emphasized the need to focus on protecting the data itself from threats.

3. Develop policies: For any organization, personnel can be either a strong component or a weak link in their cybersecurity strategies. Well-developed policies are critical for achieving the former, rather than the latter. Small business leaders must ensure that employees understand the threats themselves and know what steps to follow to minimize the danger for the company.

Security awareness training is invaluable in this capacity. By requiring workers to participate in such programs, decision-makers can greatly reduce the risk that an employee error will create an opening that opportunistic cyberattackers will then take advantage of. Instead, personnel can learn to recognize unusual or worrisome activity and take the appropriate actions to safeguard the company and its data.

By following these basic steps, small businesses will be much better able to keep themselves safe, even as cyberthreats continue to evolve and increase.