These are anxious times for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 70% are concerned about financial hardship due to pandemic-related disruptions, and more than half are worried about having to close permanently.

At the same time, SMBs are tasked with personnel management in an increasingly distributed and frequently fraught environment where employees are stressed and burned out.

Collectively, it’s a sizable challenge for SMB leadership. That’s why embracing the right priorities in the year ahead is critical to their near-term success and long-term sustainability. Here are five security and productivity hacks that can help SMBs be effective and efficient in the months and years ahead.

#1 Protect Company Data

Data security might feel like a misguided priority during a pandemic. Still, the far-reaching costs and consequences of a breach make it an operational necessity moving forward. The average cost of a data breach approaches $4 million, and that doesn’t account for the less-quantifiable reputation and opportunity costs that plague SMBs after a breach.

As SMBs embrace a hybrid workforce that encourages flexibility and distribution, cyberattacks are becoming even more problematic. 91% of businesses report an increase in cyber-attacks since adopting remote work as everything from account takeovers to brute-force attacks have increased.

While SMBs should divert resources to upgrading their defensive postures, the vast majority of cyber-attacks and data breaches are made possible by employee accidents and negligence, making insider threats a solvable problem that can reduce exposure without requiring significant capital investments. SMBs should consider…

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