Cybersecurity – It’s Not Just a “Big Business” Problem
Cybersecurity is a word we’ve all become entirely too familiar with. It seems that we can’t turn on the news without hearing about another story of a company being hacked, its information stolen, and, in certain instances, its data being held for ransom. And despite what some continue to think, this is not just a “big company problem.” It affects small and mid-sized businesses just as much, if not more. In fact, according to the Verizon 2019 Data Breach Investigations Report, 43% of cyberattacks target small businesses.
There’s a reason for this targeting. Small businesses tend to have more exposure, without the protections in place to help minimize the risks of a cyberattack. Not only are they more prone to attacks, for small business with limited resources, an attack can prove to be fatal. Sadly, 60% of small businesses that experience a cybersecurity attack are out of business within six months. The reason? Too often, they don’t have a viable backup system or plan, so when they lose their data, it’s gone for good.
According to a U.S. Small Business Administration survey, 88% of small business owners believe their business is vulnerable to a cyberattack. With the increase in remote workers without infrastructure for cybersecurity or employee training on increased risks due to the pandemic, this high percentage is not surprising.
Other Costly Statistics in the World of Cybersecurity
- There were 1.4 million reports of identity theft in 2020 (double from 2019)
- Cybercrime will cost $10.5 trillion annually by 2025
- Every minute, $2.9 million is lost to cybercrime
- As of 2020, the average cost of a data breach is $3.86 million
How They Get In
The most common way attackers infiltrate your system in through email. We’ve all seen them. They look like legitimate emails at first glance, but then there is something that catches your eye – the email address may be off, it may be asking you to click on a link, or it has an attachment that doesn’t seem right.
Whether it’s through an email or through ads or pop-ups on the web, when you click on that document, link, or ad, the virus that was embedded launches a program on your computer that will start locking files. If you’re connected to a network (which many of us are), the virus then travels to the server and infects files there and on other connected computers. Once it starts, it cannot be reversed, and you may not even be aware it is happening. Often times, the attacker will wait, lurking in the background, to collect as much valuable information as possible.
What You Can Do to Protect Yourself
Despite the news stories and all the warnings, many small businesses are not prepared for a cyberattack. While we can never eliminate the threat completely, there are actions we can take as part of an overall strategy to minimize the risk:
- Ensure your computers and servers have a strong firewall
- Keep all hardware and software up to date
- Install all updates and patches
- Use stronger passwords and change them frequently
- Use Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)
- Do not allow users to download unsupported or free software
- Back up all critical data and systems regularly
- Have a backup plan in place
- Invest in Cybersecurity insurance
- Educate your employees
- Raising awareness among employees is one of the most important steps you can take. Continuously inform them about what the latest threats are, remind them about updates, and remind them not to open emails if they don’t know who the email is from. Use real-life scenarios and samples of phishing emails to help them understand the threats.
With these tools and systems in place, you not only minimize your risks, but if you are attacked, you will be able to get your company back up and running much faster than if you didn’t.
As they say, the world is changing, and, as always, we need to change right along with it. The key, as with much in business, is being prepared, understanding your own particular vulnerabilities, and taking proactive steps to help ensure your safety and the safety of your business.
Barker Associates has extensive experience in helping companies navigate through all the complexities of running a successful business, including utilizing resources to help keep it safe. If you need assistance, or have any other questions, please click here to schedule a 30-minute consultation at a rate of $100.