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Have you ever stopped to consider what’d happen if a hacker launched a cyber attack against your business? Would they be able to access your company’s sensitive information? This isn’t something that only big businesses need to consider today. It’s also something that small businesses must pay attention to as well.
Why Small Businesses Must pay Attention to Cyber Security Today
According to Business, here are some statistics you must consider:
- Small businesses are the target of about 43% of cyber attacks
- Only 14% of small businesses feel they’re highly effective at mitigating cyber attacks
- About 60% of small businesses will no longer be in business 6 months after a cyber attack
- 48% of data security breaches are caused by malicious intent
These are statistics that you can’t afford to ignore as a small business owner. You’ve worked way too hard to have your business suffer because you haven’t taken steps to protect your business from hackers. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that your business is so small that nobody will ever want to hack it.
Why Hackers Target Small Businesses
Big businesses aren’t the only targets today. While you don’t hear about it as often in the news, there are several reasons why hackers will go after a small business, including:
- Small businesses tend to not take cybersecurity seriously because they think they’re too small for a hacker to notice. This is actually one of the main reasons hackers target small businesses: They’re an easy target.
- Small businesses have information that hackers want. Since you take payments for the products you sell or the services you render, you have information that hackers want. Of course, hackers would also love to get their hands on your employees’ information (e.g. their social security number), too.
Failure to secure your information will make you part of the 7.4% of small business owners who’ve been hacked.
Protecting Your Small Business Against a Cyberattack
Now that you understand that you’re not protected from being hacked simply because you’re a small business, it’s time to find ways to protect your company’s information. There are several ways you can do this, including:
- Get cybersecurity insurance for your business. This will protect you from various types of cyber attacks. When such a breach happens, your company will be held liable for it, and this could cost you a lot of money in the form of a lawsuit – something that could easily cripple your business. However, if you have this insurance, you won’t need to worry about anything because your legal costs are covered.
- Developing a password strategy that ensures your employees don’t use simple passwords is important. You’ll want to make sure that your team is educated about the importance of this. Even this won’t stop every attack, but it will slow down a persistent hacker. Making your system difficult to hack will discourage some attackers, too. This is as simple as making sure that your employees create passwords that include a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. You should also require your employees to reset their passwords monthly.
- Use virtual data rooms (VDR) to keep your information secure while also keeping sensitive data secure. A VDR is an online repository where you store your company’s data (e.g. financial information, legal documents, tax papers, intellectual property information) because it’s near impossible for hackers to get information out of them.
- Talking to an IT security consultant expert is expensive, but it’s also a great investment. In the same way that you wouldn’t try to do home DIY projects you’re clueless about, you also shouldn’t try to handle your own IT security. Instead, when you’re concerned about your cyber security, you should talk to an IT security expert who’ll look at your business and determine what you need to do to protect it from cyber attacks. They’ll identify areas where you’re currently vulnerable and then they’ll make recommendations to help you keep your business safe. This is something you’ll want to make room in your budget for.
- Make sure you’re watching for internal threats because, surprisingly enough, this is where most (about 55%) cybersecurity issues start. Unfortunately, about 31.5% of employees are malicious and another 23.5% of employees make a mistake that’ll leave your business vulnerable to an attack. Clearly, you must look inside your organization instead of simply assuming that a cyber attack will come from an outside entity. One of the things you should watch for here is authorization requirements – carefully select which employees have access to your business’ sensitive information so you can prevent “internal hacks.” This isn’t something you should feel guilty about. In fact, you should feel guilty about not doing this because, as a business owner, it’s up to you to make sure your business and your employees are protected. Of course, it’s important to find a balance between being safe and micromanaging.
Protecting Your Small Business
Small Biz Trends understands that a lot of this sounds more like science fiction than reality but the truth is: Malware is booming. In one quarter of 2018 alone, there were 1.9 million new mobile malware threats detected. Fortunately, many cybersecurity solutions such as open-source antivirus are available for you to take, like:
- Designate someone in your company to act as a point person who implements solutions. This doesn’t have to be their full-time job, but it’s important to have such a person on your staff so crucial considerations aren’t overlooked. They don’t even have to be an IT professional. They can simply leverage solutions like those McAfee offers to protect your data. This will significantly decrease the number of threats your company has each year.
- Make sure there’s a security perimeter established around your crucial systems. This should be based on a multi-factor authentication system. In other words, don’t just password protect your data; add another form of authentication to it as well (e.g. a one-time PIN sent to the user’s phone). Many companies are in the business of providing you with simple, affordable solutions today.
- Training your employees on how to recognize suspicious emails and phishing attacks is more important now than ever because hackers are becoming more creative. As such, the differences between legitimate emails and phishing schemes have grown quite subtle.
- Make sure you back up your healthy, secure network on a regular basis. Always scan anything you download before downloading it.
Enforcing these tips will ensure that you are safer from cyber attacks than if you were to simply stand by and do nothing.Opinions expressed here are the opinions of the author. Influencive does not endorse or review brands mentioned; does not and can not investigate relationships with brands, products, and people mentioned and is up to the author to disclose. VIP Contributors and Contributors, amongst other accounts and articles, are professional fee-based.
John Reiley is an NYC-based senior business analyst. He has been helping small business owners plan their strategies for success since 2005. He is a big gadget freak who loves to share his views on latest technologies and applications.