It’s a tough time for small business owners and their employees. Surging operational costs and supply chain issues are colliding with a rate of inflation that’s limiting how much consumers are willing and able to spend. And as the pandemic continues, there could be more legal and economic hurdles on the way. Startups and other small businesses are fighting to keep their doors open, or to open them in the first place.
If your team is struggling, cybersecurity may not seem like the highest priority. But investing in the right tools and processes is critical to keep employees productive and your business protected. Any upfront costs are nothing when compared to the potential price of a data breach. Most businesses that are attacked don’t get a second chance to improve their defenses, either.
In the small business comeback story, secure-minded habits like better password management will be a critical plot point. Since most cyber attacks involve “human error” – like weak or reused passwords on different accounts – simple investments like a password manager can greatly reduce your risks, by making safe habits easier for employees. Putting this safest foot forward will keep the recovery journey and your company’s continued growth moving in the right direction.
Small teams were hit hard
When the pandemic began, many small businesses suddenly lost their cash flow. Restaurants, retail shops, and many others were forced to close temporarily – or for good. Then came inflation and supply chain issues that made balancing the books even tougher.
More than two years later, many small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are still trying to catch up from inconsistent sales during the lockdowns, and making adjustments where needed. And each day, more are facing closure after doing everything in their power to stay afloat. Running a business is challenging enough in a so-called “normal” year, but right now, every small business owner must feel like they’re playing on Extra Hard Mode without a pause button.
Like sharks in the water, cybercriminals have seen these challenges as opportunities. Cyber attacks rose 600 percent during the pandemic, with 70 percent targeting SMBs. It’s no coincidence: Small teams are simply less likely to devote resources to security or put processes in place, such as training for new employees. Nearly half actually loosened their security protocols to stay productive during the pandemic (which was … unfortunate timing).
One breach is often one too many: 60 percent of attacked SMBs close within six months. Even if it’s not fatal to your business, a single security incident can mean serious financial fallout and a major blow to customer trust, which is already on wobbly ground in general.
Why password managers are a crucial companion
Now more than ever, growing businesses need to be smart and intentional with their budgets. Many proposed expenses are luxuries that can wait. But some investments are simply a must – and in today’s connected world, steps to protect your data are increasingly crucial.
The majority of business-related cyber attacks can be traced back to something a person did, like using a weak password. Not a technology gap or other infrastructure issues. So the best security improvements come from improving your employees’ habits. Empowering your team with the right training and tools is the single greatest ROI in cybersecurity, no matter if you’re a law firm or a lingerie store.
A password manager like 1Password is an ideal starting point to build a winning culture of security, where online safety is just second nature. It empowers your team members to protect all of their online accounts with strong, unique passwords – and quickly update any passwords that might be affected by a breach.
Secure your team with 1Password Business
There are also ways to improve your security without spending a dime. If your company has an IT team, sit with them and explain some of the changes you can make for free. For example, educating your employees about how to spot a phishing email and other red flags. Free resources like 1Password University can help you and your team become more aware and security-conscious, both inside and outside of work.
Coming back stronger, smarter, and more secure
Inflation may still be rising, and the pandemic’s twists and turns may not be over quite yet. But there are reasons to be hopeful, with steady job growth and cooped-up consumers itching to get out and live their lives. Some governments are trying their best to accelerate the recovery, too. For example, the United States has pledged to spend $10 billion on helping small businesses. Nobody can say for sure, but this summer could deliver the burst of momentum that owners have been waiting for.
The world of work is changing at a caffeinated pace. It’s an ideal time to reboot your processes and how you think about your operation as a whole. That includes what to prioritize in your company culture (and what not to).
Not much is certain – nor has it ever been. But as the global economy continues its climb, cybersecurity will be a keen investment in any scenario. Secure team practices and keeping an eye on tomorrow’s threats will help your business thrive, regardless of the economic and technological challenges that come next.