Cyber security plan template for small business

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A cyber attack is disastrous for businesses. This is even more true for small businesses without the proper security strategies in place. 

Luckily, you can protect your business from unwanted threats with a cyber security plan template for small business success. 

Keep reading to learn about the importance of strong cyber security practices and find out how you can create your own plan. 

What is a cyber security plan template for small business?

A cyber security plan template for small business outlines everything you need to protect your business from cyber security threats. A thorough security plan includes preventative and reactive measures to minimize your business risk.

The plan typically includes these three components:

  • Technologies: Having the right protection software installed on your devices.
  • Processes: How you enforce your security policies, including employee training.
  • Access controls: Limiting who has access to your business data.

No matter what type of business you run, you need a proper plan in place.

Why you need a cyber security plan 

Your team relies on business data every day to keep operations moving. This includes:

  • Customer information.
  • Financial data.
  • Sales history.

If you lose this data to a cyber security breach, you risk losing your business. 

Unfortunately, no business is immune to cyber security threats. In fact, small and medium businesses are prime targets for cyber attacks.

43% of cyber attacks target small businesses.

– Cybint

A cyber security strategy is your first line of defense against these attacks. A complete security plan prevents cyber attacks, and provides quick solutions when required. 

There are several types of cyber threats that could affect your business. Let’s take a look at a few of them. 

Common cyber threats for small businesses

The first step in creating a cyber security plan template for small business protection is understanding your business’ risk. 

To identify your potential vulnerabilities, you need to know what threats are out there. Here are the most common cyber security threats for small businesses. 

Malware attacks

Malware is the biggest cyber threat for small businesses today. 

The term itself is broad, referring to any type of malicious software meant to harm devices or networks. 

Three common types of malware attacks include:

  • Viruses.
  • Ransomware. 
  • Spyware.

Let’s dive deeper into each one.

Viruses

In short, a virus is a piece of computer code meant to harm your hardware. Computer viruses affect your devices in many ways, including:

  • Corrupting or deleting files.
  • Damaging computer programs.
  • Slowing down device performance. 
  • Causing excessive pop-up windows.

It’s a good idea to include signs that a device is infected with a virus in your cyber security plan template for small business.

What’s more is that there are several ways that your devices can catch a virus, such as:

  • File sharing.
  • Downloading harmful software.
  • Infected emails. 

Viruses used to be the only cyber threat that businesses worried about, but cyber security has evolved to include several other attack strategies.

Ransomware attacks

Ransomware is malware where hackers access your data and hold it for ransom by encrypting it. You then pay them to decrypt your data and regain access. 

Ransomware is the third most popular type of malware used in data breaches. 

Verizon

Depending on the information that the hacker gathers, a ransomware attack can be tragic for your small business. It could cost you all of your savings to pay the hacker. 

Unfortunately, even if you comply with the hacker, there’s a chance that they won’t keep up their end of the deal. 

Spyware

Spyware is a type of malware that collects information from your device without your knowledge. It’s difficult to detect, and many people never know that they’ve been subject to a spyware attack.

One of the most common ways spyware hackers install spyware is through phishing emails. 

Phishing scams

Unlike the other attacks on this list, phishing isn’t software. Phishing is a technique used to gather sensitive information through deception. The act of convincing someone to disclose information to a hacker is called social engineering. 

Phishing attacks often involve malware. One of the most common phishing tactics involves sending emails with links that lead to a website infected with malware. 

A common social engineering strategy is to trick recipients to reply to emails with personal information by pretending to be a credible source, such as a colleague.

It’s important to include strategies to prevent phishing attacks in your cyber security plan template, most of which surrounds employee education (more on this later).  

Let’s jump into how to create a cyber security plan for small business.

How to create your business cyber security plan

Creating a security plan requires you to look at your current business processes to determine your vulnerabilities. 

From there, put together a plan to eliminate those vulnerabilities and minimize your risk. It’s a good idea to use a cyber security plan template for small business to help you through this process.

To guide you, here are 5 key steps to creating your plan. 

1. Identify your biggest threats

You can’t create a line of defense if you don’t know what you need defending from. This is why the first step in creating a cyber security plan for small business is to understand your business risk.

The most common threats for small businesses include:

  • Malware.
  • Ransomware.
  • Phishing.
  • Weak passwords. 

Identifying your risks helps you find ways to prevent these risks from happening. This includes solutions, such as:

  • Antivirus software.
  • Newer devices with updated security features (i.e., fingerprint scanning).
  • Password parameters. 

If you have an IT team, this is a job for them. If not, consult an IT professional to help you identify your exposure and create a plan.

2. Prioritize your assets

Cyber security asset assessment involves identifying your IT assets and potential security risks. Your assets include your traditional devices as well as your digital assets. 

Here are some common business assets to consider:

  • PCs and mobile devices.
  • Networks and servers.
  • Cloud-based data.
  • Financial data.
  • Customer information.

In reality, any part of your IT infrastructure is at risk of cyber security threats, so be sure to create a comprehensive list.

From there, decide which assets are the most important and determine the most vulnerable ones to begin creating your security plan. 

3. Set your goals

The goal of your security plan is to protect your small business. However, several smaller goals play into this larger objective.

In a perfect world, creating a plan to prevent cyber attacks would be enough. However, relying solely on prevention is unrealistic. 

As much as you can try to prevent cyber security attacks, there’s always a risk of cyber attackers getting through your defense. So, in addition to preventing attacks, your goals should also include optimal readiness to respond to threats. 

Better yet, you should have a goal for your recovery time to minimize your exposure and damage to your assets. 

4. Document your plan

Once you’ve determined your current cyber security risks and created a plan to improve your response readiness, it’s time to document your plan. This step is easy if you use a cyber security plan template for small business, as you just have to fill in the sections in the template.

There are several reasons why documenting your strategies is important. 

For starters, you don’t want anything to slip through cracks when it comes to a cyber security plan for small business. It only takes one small slip-up for a hacker to access your information. Thoroughly documenting your plan minimizes the risk of overlooking an aspect of your business.

What’s more, employee training plays a huge part in your cyber security strategy. So, document your plan in a way that your employees can easily understand. 

5. Do a test run

Once you have the proper cyber security infrastructure in place and your employees are trained,  test your plan to make sure it works.

Don’t forget to test your employees’ ability to recognize threats by sending test phishing emails.

It’s important to note that cyber security continuously evolves. Once you confirm that your new plan works, set up a schedule to conduct regular cyber security tests to ensure that your strategies are up to date.

Now that you know how to create your plan, let’s explore what to include in your template. 

What to include in your cyber security plan template for small business

Making a cyber security strategy is no small task. There are two points to remember about your plan:

  1. It’s a document your team regularly references.
  2. The security of your business depends on it.

To address these two factors, you want to ensure that you include as much detail in your plan as possible. 

Using a cyber security plan template for small business simplifies the process and ensures that your plan captures every aspect of your business. 

Here’s what to include in your template. 

Your objectives

To kick things off, your cyber security plan for small business protection should open with your goals. 

Your goals guide your plan, so clearly stating your goals at the start gives context to your proposed strategies. 

As a result, the reader sees the bigger picture and better understands the importance of cyber security strategies.

Common threats

To fully understand your cyber security strategies, you need to outline your business’ security threats.

Make sure that your plan describes each threat as it pertains to your business. This means associating each common threat with an asset. 

For example, one common threat to small business security is password hacking, and one of the assets at risk is your company’s data. Knowing this, you can form a strategy to strengthen your employee passwords and prevent a data breach.

Security policies

Cyber security policies serve as the framework of your plan. 

Policies outline how you expect your team to protect your business assets and minimize your risk. Some basic security practices include:

  • Limiting who accesses information. 
  • Restricting internet browsing on your network. 
  • Implementing a plan of action for suspicious emails. 

Your security policies are mainly preventative, so you should consider how to react to security breaches. 

Breach response plan 

Prevention is the best tool to protect your business, but it shouldn’t be your only tool. If your business does become the victim of a cyber attack, you should have a reactionary plan.

A breach response process allows you to quickly identify an attack and shut it down as soon as possible. This minimizes damage to your business data and ensures that you’re back up and running in no time. 

Your breach response plan should include clear steps and a timeline of how long you have to shut down an attack before your business is at risk. 

Employee education plan

You can have the tightest cyber security policies in place, but if your employees don’t know them, your business is still exposed. 

So, your cyber security plan for small business isn’t complete without employee training. To be successful, your employees need to be up to speed on your business’ cyber risks and security policies.

Design a cyber security training program to walk your employees through your security policies. A complete employee education plan results in your employees:

  • Creating strong passwords.
  • Recognizing phishing emails.
  • Resisting other social engineering techniques. 
  • Knowing what to do if they accidentally disclose information.

Highlight your training plan in your cyber security plan template for small business. 

For best results, have your employees go through cyber security training at least once a year and test their knowledge monthly. 

Wrap up: Cyber security plan template for small business success

The truth is that if you don’t have a solid cyber security plan for small business, you risk losing your business completely. 

With this in mind, it’s important to prioritize cyber security policies and implement them into your business process. 

The key components of a complete  plan include:

  1. Clear goals. 
  2. Potential threats.
  3. Security policies.
  4. A breach response plan.
  5. Employee training. 

To help you out, here is a cyber security plan template for small business so that you can get a head start in protecting your business. 

Brush up on other technology trends for your small business in this blog!

Image credit: cottonbro via Pexels.

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