If you own a business, you have a target on your back. Hackers and cybercriminals are coming for you, and if you are not prepared, you could end up on the wrong side of a dangerous attack.

One of the most effective things you can do to safeguard your business and protect its cybersecurity is to engage in a series of carefully planned and professionally executed tests. Evaluating the state of your cybersecurity on an ongoing basis is good for your business, good for your employees and good for your bottom line.

Maybe you are already conducting one or two of these cybersecurity tests. Perhaps you have put even more of these evaluations into place. No matter what you are doing or are not doing now, here are three critical cybersecurity tests to run an ongoing basis.

Security Awareness Testing

When it comes to protecting your cyber security and your business, you are only as strong as your weakest link. In most cases, that weakest link will be made of flesh and blood instead of metal and silicone.

If you want to keep your business safe, testing the cybersecurity awareness of your staff is critical. Testing the cybersecurity response of employees during a simulated ransomware attack or phishing attempt is vital and should be an ongoing part of your efforts.

Vulnerability Assessment

Regardless of size, businesses use dozens of software products, including mobile apps, desktop applications and more. Every one of those apps and programs could provide a way into the business and its network, and that's why a top-to-bottom vulnerability assessment is so important.

During a vulnerability assessment, an outside business or hired contractor evaluates the status of every piece of software your business uses. When the evaluation has been completed, you will be presented with a series of findings, as well as recommendations for moving forward and locking down the network and its resources.

Penetration Testing

Finding a vulnerability is one thing; exploiting it is another. Not every vulnerability will become a point of entry, and simply having unsafe software does not mean your defenses have ever been breached.

Penetration testing moves beyond the theoretical. It involves testing your network and systems to see if they have been breached. Just as importantly, penetration testing helps determine just how vulnerable you are.

During a penetration test, trusted computer experts try to break into the network. You can think of them as "good guy hackers." If deficiencies are uncovered, and the contractors manage to break in, they can provide you with vital information on shoring up your cyber defenses.

As a business owner, you have a lot to worry about, but you should not let your cyber defenses slip. Cybersecurity is a critical concern for businesses of all sizes, and firms that fail to take the threats seriously could become the next victims.

If your firm is not already conducting the three cybersecurity tests listed above, it's time to get moving. Hackers do not wait -- and they are always looking for easy victims.

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