Cybersecurity and the Risk to Small Business

You’ve built your dream, and you know it will succeed – it must succeed. This is your baby. Sure, it may be small, at least for now, but you’ve put everything into it: money, time, energy, heart and soul. There may be things you haven’t yet been able to afford, such as a sophisticated IT security system. Maybe it was all you could do to buy minimal hardware, software, and get connected to the internet. And for a small business, would hackers even bother?

Cybercriminals target small businesses for varying reasons: they are likely less secure because they typically have a smaller security budget -->

Yes. They would. Cybercriminals target small businesses for varying reasons: they are likely less secure because they typically have a smaller security budget and thus are easily breached, allowing for many small companies to be attacked in the time it takes to breach one large company. Or they become an attractive intrusion point for entry to larger companies, such as what happened with the Target breach in 2013, accomplished by criminals hacking through one of Target’s third-party vendors.

Small businesses have few fail safes and fallbacks. One targeted hack can be catastrophic for a small business, leading to financial ruin. Business Insider reported that 60% of all small businesses close within six months of a cyberattack. (http://www.businessinsider.com/the-challenges-in-defending-against-malware-2011-9)

What can you do?

First, familiarize yourself on how IT security works. Even if you intend to outsource your cybersecurity needs, it’s critical to know the process involved.

Second, understand that your employees can be your biggest threat by failing to observe proper security protocols. This could include failure to create secure passwords, clicking bad links on the internet, losing their laptops or thumb drives, or the improper use of social media. Your employees must be thoroughly trained to recognize cyber threats. Create a culture of security. Find a fun, engaging way of educating your employees to the importance of security awareness.

Third, be aware of your vulnerabilities in terms of what cybercriminals will target in your business. Is it customer credit card information? Intellectual property or trade secrets? What data do you need to safeguard? This knowledge will help to apply preventive measures.

Internet security is for all. We all need to do our part to minimize the risk. It’s much more than reacting to attacks, which can prove fatal to small business; offensive strategies are the key to pinpoint vulnerabilities and making it more difficult for hackers to make off with your information.

It is your livelihood. Your dream. Don’t let it be taken.

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