One of the most commonly shared myths among small businesses and their owners is that hackers have no interest in attacking them, that they are simply too small to be worth hacking. These assumptions couldn’t be more wrong.
The reality is a high percentage of cyberattacks target small businesses. It’s the lack of cybersecurity that makes small businesses so attractive. Tap or click here to learn 5 mistakes that could hurt your small business.
Thanks to our sponsor, Dell, we’re going to take a closer look at the cyber threats and digital attacks that small businesses face and how they can best shield themselves.
Why hackers have small businesses in their sights
Studies over the last three years have shown that more than half of all cyberattacks were aimed at small businesses. Why? Because small business owners don’t always take cybersecurity seriously. Some believe their company is too small to attract any interest from hackers. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
If you are taking payments for services or products, you have exactly what hackers want: customer credit card details and personal information, including your employee’s information.
Large companies can afford to invest millions in cybersecurity, while the majority of small businesses simply lack the resources and funds to have a dedicated IT team or advanced security protocols put into place. Hackers expect this and will take advantage of it the first chance they get.
The average cyberattack costs small business owners anywhere from $80,000 to $150,000. That may not be enough to bring down a behemoth-sized business, but it’s enough to cripple a smaller operation. A recent report stated 60% of small businesses going out of business within six months after attacks.
Best ways a small business can defend against cybercriminals
The best way for small businesses to protect themselves from hackers is to be proactive and vigilant. Stay informed and understand the real dangers that are threatening the online world.
Here are some of the best ways for small businesses to stay protected from cyberattacks:
Be aware of internal threats
It’s been reported that 31.5% of attacks are initiated by company insiders and employees. For example, the suspect in the recent Capital One hack turned out to be a former Amazon Web Service employee, who accessed the bank’s customer files which were stored on Amazon’s cloud server.
By beefing up internal protocols, increasing authorization requirements and keeping a close eye on every employee with access to secured data, potential leaks and hacks should be stopped before they even have a chance to start.
Invest in more secure forms of communication
This may come as a surprise, but faxing is actually the most secure form of communication in the business world. Furthermore, if your staff uses mobile devices for work or accessing accounts, you need restrictions on the information certain devices can access.
There should also be strict rules on whether devices can be taken home as well as clear protocols for when and how IT can wipe a device clean.
Designate a point person to oversee all cybersecurity efforts
Even if employees are wearing multiple hats and handling a variety of responsibilities, someone trustworthy should have their focus on security. This person doesn’t have to necessarily handle all the work, but they need to find the right services or professionals who can implement the proper updates and upgrades.
Properly train employees
Consistently provide ongoing training to employees on appropriate security practices. And limit access to sensitive data to only specific employees who need it perform their duties.
A majority of data breaches in both big and small businesses occur when employees unwittingly download malicious materials disguised as legitimate emails. Phishing scams are a prime example. So it’s worth it to educate employees on how to distinguish between real and fake downloadable content.
Install anti-virus software and hardware, and keep it updated
Identity thieves take advantage of company ignorance. Some companies fail, or often forget, to update their security software consistently and in a timely manner. Installing and testing a proper firewall is strongly recommended, and before downloading any files, make sure they’ve been scanned first.
Keep critical data backed up
Once you’ve confirmed your system is clear and you’ve implemented the proper security protocols, you must consider regularly backing up all of your data as well. This has become a significant step for small businesses due to the increase of attackers using cyber blackmail or ransomware.
Holding a company’s valuable info hostage is an easy payday for hackers; however, businesses can take back control of the situation by having a backup plan at the ready. Saving data across numerous locations, including a cloud server, ensures businesses can access their data, even after it’s been compromised.
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