Decoding Data Protection: A Must-Know for Small Business CEOs

It’s no secret that small businesses are a top target for cyberattackers.

As much as 46% of all cyber breaches impact small businesses with less than 1,000 employees, and this number is only growing. According to a recent US report, as much as 73% of small US businesses had undergone a cyber attack in 2023, and with 60% of SMEs going out of business within 6 months of a breach, this is something you have to take seriously as a CEO.

A Growing Awareness

One of the main reasons cybercriminals go for small businesses is because of their cybersecurity systems. Like any large business, most SMEs collect a huge amount of data from consumers, but unlike large businesses, many do not have the appropriate security to keep them safe. 

Despite following basic data guidelines like GDPR or CCPA, nearly 50% of small businesses with less than 50 employees don’t pay for cybersecurity, while 51% don’t utilise any sort of IT security measures. But data, of course, can be a double-edged sword. While it is incredibly useful for businesses, harnessing a lot of data puts you deeper into the firing line, and – although it may sound harsh – if cyber criminals don’t finish you off, then your customers will. 

Due to efficient data removal services, like the CyberNews acclaimed Incogni, more and more internet users are becoming aware of how their data is being taken, meaning they expect more from businesses that have personal data on their systems. If a cyber attack takes place, and your data protection is not up to standard, then your reputation will fall just as hard as your defences did.

Data Protection in 2024

As a CEO, then, what exactly should you be doing to protect your data? Well, while the situation is complex, the answer is not. Firstly, you too need to be aware of the current landscape. Data collection ten years ago may have been like the Wild West – companies gleaning as much data from as many sources as they could – but it now has to be more delicate than that. 

Make sure that your data is laser-focused. Instead of collecting a haul of data, think about the exact data you need to improve your internal processes and marketing. If your data is focused, and you don’t have to spread it out across multiple systems, then your cybersecurity can be focused too.

As well as this, you need to ensure that you are using all the best cybersecurity tools, including encryption technologies. Encryption is one of the most important factors in data protection, and this year, it’s likely we’ll see the implementation of new encryption algorithms – including quantum-resistant encryption and homomorphic encryption. 

Both of these technologies can withstand the strength of powerful breach attacks, with homomorphic encryption, specifically, allowing for computations to be carried out on encrypted data without the need for decryption. Complete with enhanced cloud data encryption, authentication technology, and sufficient staff training, these tools and practices could be the difference if a cyber attack ever happens to your business.

Securing the Future

Hopefully, your company won’t be one of the businesses affected by a cyber attack in 2024. But this isn’t about preventing a cyber attack in 2024. This is about securing the future for the long term. You want to know that, if you do ever experience a cyber attack, your defences are well in place to protect your data – not just for you, but for your customers. 

As mentioned before, consumers are starting to heavily prioritise data safety, and if they know you are prioritising it too, your reputation is sure to strengthen as a result. Just look at Apple, who have made data privacy a huge part of their marketing ploy. If you get data protection right, you can give your business the edge that it needs in the competitive market, while also placing yourself one step ahead of attackers.

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