Business tech leaders have conquered many types of IT challenges over the past 20 years, but there’s one that keeps eluding them—security.

Of all the challenges faced by technology professionals, few are as persistent and tough to tackle as security. Every time you bring in new technology, capture new data, or connect your business and your people in a new way, the security risks shift dramatically—and keeping up can feel like a never ending race.

There’s a constant stream of new threats and risks to contend with, especially with the rapid rise of IoT technology creating new vulnerabilities. No matter how large your company, security budget, or IT team is, everyone is a target.

SMBs also under fire

Gone are the days of hackers exclusively launching malicious attacks against large organizations. Today’s cybercriminals are much more interested in stealing valuable customer, business, and financial data.

Not surprisingly, many have set their sights where security is weaker—in small and medium sized businesses.

In PwC’s 2015 Global State of Information Security Survey, they found that breaches within midsize companies increased 64% between 2013 and 2014. And, a recent report from IBM and the Ponemon Institute found that the average cost of a data breach now stands at a staggering $3.8 million.

In a 2015 article, CIO.com called out the real costs of cybercrime for small businesses, highlighting five important consequences:

  • Business lost during and as a result of the attack
  • Loss of company assets
  • Damage to reputation
  • Litigation
  • Protection costs

The threats are real, and the consequences are dire, so what can you do to protect yourself, your company, and your customers?

It’s time to take action

Regardless of your company size, if you’re looking to improve cybersecurity and protect your business against the latest threats, here are 5 things to keep in mind:

1. Don’t collect data you don’t need  

Today, data is power—but it’s also the number one target for cybercriminals. If you collect and keep sensitive data that you’re not actively using, it’s not delivering any value to you. It’s only increasing the potential damage a security breach could cause—and how much it could cost.

2. Understand exactly where your vulnerabilities lie

Businesses are exposed in more areas than ever before, and understanding all these areas is key to keeping yourself protected, identifying breaches, and stopping them before too much damage can be done.

When you’re identifying your vulnerabilities, don’t forget that IoT tech dramatically extends the boundaries of your network. Gartner predicts that by 2020 over 25% of attacks will involve IoT, so it’s important to know where this pervasive connectivity is putting your business at risk.

Once you’ve mapped out the vulnerable points–in your traditional infrastructure and across the larger IoT-based network—you can seek out expert help to plug the gaps and minimize the risk of a breach.

3. Maintain a constant cycle of security planning, implementation, and review

Make a detailed cybersecurity plan that covers all of your vulnerabilities, implementing it with care, reviewing frequently, and make appropriate changes as needed. You’re now well positioned to stay on top of threats as they arise.

4. Educate your team

In today’s modern business, many teams and departments need access to your data—and ultimately, it’s the way they interact with it that determines how secure your organization is.

With employees accessing more sensitive data more often, through unmanaged devices, educating them about security best practices has never been more important. According to security experts McAfee, employees should have some form of training to help them understand:

  • Password best practices
  • How to avoid malware and email-based threats
  • The security implications of using social media
  • The vulnerabilities of their mobile devices

5. Accept that you will always be slightly vulnerable

You can waste a huge volume of resources chasing the impossible dream of 100% cybersecurity protection—resources that would be far better spent perfecting the basics and giving yourself the best chance of deflecting common attacks.

Even the largest companies, with the most robust security, aren’t completely immune, with Vtech, Experian, and even the IRS suffering some of the biggest data breaches of 2015.

Share your insights

How are you keeping up with the latest cybersecurity threats? Perhaps you have some lessons or experiences of your own to share. Let us know in the comments below.

Read more on security concerns when it comes to mobility and how the Wall Street Journal says you can overcome them.