The sheer size of the data breaches that compromise some large companies makes them newsworthy: From Equifax to Yahoo! to Doordash, each enormous breach exposed an eye-watering number of customer data files to the nefarious end of the Web. The customers and clients of those businesses must just shake their heads as they glumly reset all of their passwords hoping to avoid any measurable fallout. The only plus side for the businesses victimized by these hacks is that the news cycle will move on to the next breach—and it won’t be a long wait.
The truth is, cyber threats affect all businesses, and the vast majority target small- to mid-size companies. These smaller companies may face a withering number of attacks because the perception among hackers is they’re low-hanging fruit—they don’t have the kind of resources those huge corporations employ to protect themselves.
Some studies indicate that more than 40 percent of all cyber attacks target small businesses, with other polls suggesting the figure is well over half. The attacks can be frequent—40 percent reported more than one attack according to one report—and they can cause damage beyond what many of the large companies sustain.
The damage can be substantial. Ask yourself: Can your business withstand having all its computer- and network-based systems down for two weeks? Not many can, and some statistics say that 60 percent of businesses that are attacked go out of business within six months. Having data backed up properly takes nearly all the stress out of a hack or ransomware attack. The worst part: Some companies think their data is backed up, only to learn the bad news when their system is put to the real-world test.
The resulting expense of recovering data, reformatting all the machines on the network, and training staff to thwart the next security threat adds up. These unforeseen costs can be considerable, often eating up more than a balance sheet can easily accommodate. While the resulting loss of customer data may measure only a fraction of the size of those national-news-making attacks, an attack on a small business can cause irreparable damage to its reputation, particularly if its customer base is a niche market.
How can you protect your business? There are ways to ensure peace of mind and protected data. Here are four simple steps to take:
1. Know what’s going on with your network. It may be hard to hear, but often small businesses don’t even know they’ve been hacked for three to six months. Meanwhile, their clients or customers may be learning about it, as their data gets out there, their email addresses start bombarding everyone in their contact list with annoying links (and even more hack attempts), and more problems arise. The simple solution? Network monitoring. Hacks cause unauthorized network activity, and if someone is watching, and has monitoring parameters set properly, they’ll know when something is up. This is a service we can provide, and it helps keep a network healthy from all kinds of failures and business-stopping problems, in addition to security. Learn more about this service here.
2. Back up your network regularly. A hacker can’t hold your data hostage if you keep a recent, updated copy safe and sound. We can help any business back up its data regularly. We also can help by keeping your network current with the latest software patches that, when they are not done, can be critical points where hackers find their access to your network. It’s all part of our managed services, and if you want more information, read about it here.
3. Train your team. It’s remarkable when you realize that people are still a key weak point in the cyber-security spectrum, but it shouldn’t be surprising. Everyone always says: Never open an email from an unfamiliar person. But try telling that to a sales team whose whole job is to drum up new business—by definition that’s unfamiliar people, if they’re doing their job properly. Cyber-security training can clue in your team for the warning signs, the ways to protect them from malware, ransomware, and any other method the hackers try to tilt the odds in their favor. If you’re thinking about getting your team trained the right way, have a look at why customers choose to work with us here.
4. Know where your security holes are. You can’t guard the castle properly if you don’t know every potential weak point of the walls, the gate, and even that old drawbridge. Best to have it inspected and let you know. This security audit is a service we provide you for free. There’s no obligation to work with us. We deliver the report with our recommendations, and you decide the rest. Get in touch and learn what’s going on with your network here.