After working hard to put together an admirable clientele roster, the last thing you want to have happen is a data breach or virus impacting your business’s systems. A cyberattack can put your business and your customers at risk. Clients may wonder, if you can’t properly handle your cybersecurity, can you handle supporting their business? You should do what you can to help prevent a cyberattack.
Why Are Consulting Businesses at Risk for Cyberattacks?
You work with a variety of clients.
Consulting businesses can be more bang for a cybercriminal’s buck! If a consulting business’s data is breached, it may open the door to customers’ data also being breached.
It’s possible you are less likely to have strong cybersecurity.
Unless they are a financial consultant, cybersecurity probably has not been top of mind for consulting businesses, and many cybercriminals know it. Consulting businesses may even think of cybersecurity as an unnecessary inconvenience when they’re shuffling from contract to contract.
You may be more likely to pay and move on.
Rather than trying to find someone to respond to a ransomware attack, consulting businesses can be more likely to pay the ransom and move on with their business due to pressing deadlines and client demands.
Why Have Cybersecurity as a Consultant?
Your reputation matters.
You’ve built up your reputation through reliable, solid work. The same rings true whether you’re an environmental consultant, IT consultant, or marketing consultant, or you perform management consulting or strategy consulting. You have more to lose than some other types of companies because your business depends on your relationships—the stakes can be higher for you.
A cyberattack is disruptive.
Think about it. If you’re an independent consultant who fired up your laptop today and got greeted by a ransom request, it halted your work. Your laptop is your office! And if you passed a computer virus to your clients’ systems as an engineering consultant, you’d spend part of the day making calls that no one wants to make instead of working on complex solutions for clients.
Simple steps make a difference.
When it comes down to it, cybersecurity isn’t necessarily that complicated. The good news is that you can help improve your defenses relatively quickly.
7 Tips to Help Improve Your Cybersecurity as a Consultant
1. Have a different password for every client project and log in.
Across the board, from your business banking login to your business credit card, to your laptop itself, and all the tools you use for your business consulting services… each and every one should have its own password. You can also use a secure tool like LastPass to help you manage this task.
2. Use secure passwords.
We’re all old hands at this by now, right? Though it is tempting to be clever with your passwords, you should go past clever and include numbers and special characters. Avoid using your birthday or anniversary! And change your passwords more than once a year.
3. Avoid using public wifi without precautions.
If you’re working at a local coffee shop, help protect your passwords and business by using a VPN (virtual private network) and accessing HTTPS pages only. This isn’t the time to pay bills or check your bank balance!
4. Keep your software and computer updated.
Yes, updates can be annoying. They are your first line of defense, however. Make it a routine to go ahead and check for updates each morning or evening, or have your computer alert you when there are updates available. Delete unused software, and keep your smart phone completely updated, too!
5. Lock your computer.
If someone steals your laptop, why make it easier for them to access your files? Put a login on your computer and follow the advice on secure passwords above.
6. Back up your data.
If someone really does steal your laptop, you’ll be back up and running faster if you’ve backed up your data. This also helps if you must reformat your computer due to a pesky virus. Make it a habit or set up a continual backup.
7. Be smart about emails.
Don’t click on attachments until you have confirmed that you recognize the sender’s full email. That will save you potential agony. Update your email passwords even more often than other passwords. Have antivirus software on your computers in case someone else sends you a virus by email. If you receive an email from a client company whose name you don’t recognize, contact the company to verify their identity first.
We hope these seven tips for cybersecurity have given you some ideas on how to help protect your consultant business. An additional tip is to consider cyber insurance. A cyber insurance solution can help you recover from a cyberattack, including restoring lost data. Acrisure Cyber Services1 can help consultants and financial advisors with their cyber insurance, risk analytics, and risk mitigation needs.
1 The insurance products described are placed by Acrisure, LLC and/or its insurance producer affiliates. The non-insurance cybersecurity and related cyber services described are provided by Acrisure Cyber Services, LLC, an affiliate of Acrisure, LLC.