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Cybersecurity for small businesses is an issue many business owners overlook, especially as it relates to an emergency or disaster. Some may assume that since their businesses aren’t on a large scale or dealing with sensitive information, they won’t be targeted.

However, when disasters and emergencies strike, attackers look for vulnerability and know they’re likely to find it within small businesses. According to the 2019 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR), 43% of data breaches victims were small businesses.

Just as you would train and prepare your staff on how to ready their space if confronted with a fire or tornado, you should also prepare your technology and operations for emergencies and disasters. Implementing a cybersecurity plan at the time of a disaster can save your business’s reputation, along with its data and operations. By reviewing the best ways to implement a thorough cybersecurity plan, you’ll ensure your technology is ready for anything.

1. Plan ahead

If a disaster occurs, you’ll need to figure out how to protect your business, employees, and physical assets. If you’ve already planned ahead and documented the ways you’ll protect your technology, it’s one less thing you’ll need to address in the heat of the moment.

Developing a strategy to ensure you’re addressing potential cybersecurity threats to your customers and business during an emergency is crucial. When you develop a plan before an emergency occurs, you’re level-headed and have time to consider all facets and scenarios. If disaster does strike, you simply need to follow the steps to execute that plan.

If you’ve prepared for an emergency, you already know what you need to do to combat cybersecurity threats and keep your technology safe. Take your time to develop a plan that addresses all potential issues so you don’t have to worry about scrambling during an impending disaster. Be sure you have resources that both you and your employees can reference so you don’t miss a step in the plan you created.

2. Educate employees

Your employees are a lifeline when a disaster strikes but only if they’ve been educated on the plan of action. Review your cybersecurity policies and actionable steps as they relate to emergency preparedness. Ensure your employees are trained to understand your business’s technology and the importance of keeping your data and systems safe.

Your employees should be sensitive to the issues surrounding cybersecurity so it’s important to explain how consumer data leaks can affect your business reputation and other repercussions of not following technology guidelines.

Educate employees on how to identify suspicious emails or unusual occurrences in operating systems and data storage infrastructures. Assign specific duties to different employees so everyone can implement a thorough response by performing their own tasks.

3. Follow cybersecurity best practices

If your day-to-day operations involve following cybersecurity best practices, there’s generally less work you need to do if your business is ever faced with an emergency or disaster. An appropriate and secure online backup of data ensures your information is safe and easily accessible if a disaster occurs.

Having a system in place that allows you and your employees to access your data and technologies from anywhere is not only convenient during regular business operations but also helpful during an emergency. When you can monitor users who are accessing your business data and continue to analyze customer data away from the office, you’ll be able to catch a malware attack or data breach before it does permanent damage to your business.

4. Consider the biggest threats

It’s important to understand the realistic emergencies and threats your business may be susceptible to dealing with. If you live in Florida, you wouldn’t design an emergency preparedness plan for a blizzard. Consider your industry and the technology you use when analyzing the potential cyberattacks and security breaches you may experience.

Analyze your business’s systems and consider weaknesses or specific threats you may be at risk for. Consider the most obvious potential threats and develop ways to combat these attacks and emergency plans first.

For example, if the systems you use may make your customers vulnerable to a ransomware attack, consider the ways you can increase security or how you’ll address an attack if it happens. Once you’ve created plans for these obvious threats, move on to the threats that are less likely to impact you and ensure you’re prepared to address them as well.

5. Get additional support

When you’re preparing your business’s technology for an emergency, it may be best to get additional support. Outsourcing this task to a managed service provider (MSP) can ensure all potential threats are addressed properly and an adequate plan is put in place.

If an emergency does occur, an MSP is a helpful resource to assist you in protecting your business from data breaches and getting back on your feet. An MSP with cloud technology allows you to access your data from anywhere, which is crucial when disaster strikes.

Implementing a remote monitoring and management suite (RMM) may also be a lifesaver if your business faces a disaster or emergency. With an RMM, you and your staff can communicate and access your data and files from anywhere. You can keep your business going while you and staff work from home while also monitoring your system to combat any security threats.

6. Create a disaster recovery plan

Not only is it important to prepare for an impending disaster but also what you’ll do after. A disaster recovery plan specifically addresses what you need to do to get your business fully operational again. To create an individualized and effective recovery plan, consider the actionable steps you’ll need to take once everything has settled to get your business back up and running.

Create a recovery plan that takes into account how you’ll stay safe from cybersecurity threats. As you bring your systems and processes back up, it’s important to still observe any potential weaknesses in your technologies to prevent attacks.

If your business does experience a breach or cyberattack, evaluate the damage, and report it to the proper authorities. Follow your disaster recovery plan, which may include contacting customers potentially affected, and addressing your system’s vulnerabilities by changing passwords or installing system updates.

7. Test your disaster recovery plan

Once you’ve created a disaster recovery plan, test it long before you’re facing an emergency, disaster, or cyberattack. Involve all employees in testing your recovery plan to ensure they know their roles in implementing the plan.

One run-through of your disaster recovery plan isn’t enough to keep your business’s technology safe. Continually revisit your plan and update it as needed. You may implement new technologies or systems that are crucial to your business’s daily operations. As these systems are added, your plan should change to reflect on how to keep them safe and accessible during and after a disaster.

In addition to preparing your business physically for disasters and emergencies, it’s also important to address potential cybersecurity threats and issues. By designing protection and disaster recovery plans for your data and technologies, you’ll increase the safety of your systems. Avoiding cybersecurity attacks during a disaster ensures your business will be up and running in no time once the threat passes.

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