Editor's note - "Can't happen here!", you say. Our experience is different. Nearly every week, our staff responds to security and other concerns that falls into the area of cybercrime. Most are fairly minor issues, however, we've worked with local clients with potentially devastating and costly breaches.
As an entrepreneur, you probably think hackers won’t bother with you because your business is too small to care about. In reality, cybercrime targeting smaller companies is on the rise. Why are cybercriminals after your business—and what can you do about it?
Cybercrimes cost smaller companies 12% more in 2015 than in 2013. Not only is it growing, it disproportionately affects small businesses. Visa estimates 95% of credit-card data breaches it finds happen to its smallest business customers.
When it happens, the consequences of cybercrime can be devastating to a small company. Cybercrime costs small businesses 4.2 times more per employee than it does larger businesses, and 60% of small businesses that experience a data breach go out of business within six months.
What makes your business such a tempting target for cybercriminals? Here are some of the weaknesses that attract hackers—and how you can best defend yourself against each.
1. Small businesses have cut security spending in recent years, while large businesses have increased theirs. As large businesses become more difficult targets, cybercriminals prey on the easier ones.
- Best Defense: Don’t skimp—devote an appropriate budget to cybersecurity.
2. Small businesses are less likely to have in-house IT specialists to keep up with security risks and trends.
- Best Defense: Outsource security to trusted IT partners. Use automated updates and security software to protect your data.
3. Small businesses are turning to the cloud more often. Using cloud storage and data sharing applications has its benefits, but if the solutions you choose aren’t meant for business use, they can put your data at risk.
- Best Defense: Use secure, business-class cloud storage and data-sharing solutions and apps.
4. Small business owners’ data has become increasingly networked. For example, today’s point-of-sale (POS) systems and printers include software that makes them vulnerable entry points because they are networked, shared, and connected to so many other applications in your business.
- Best Defense: Choose printers with built-in, business-class security such as run-time intrusion detection and self-healing security features. Buy POS hardware that meets PCI compliance standards and supports PCI-compliant devices. Limit connections between your POS system’s payment data and other systems in your business.
5. Small business owners tend to use consumer technology for business—without considering the security risks—because it’s more affordable.
- Best Defense: Don’t share a laptop with your kids—buy computers meant for business that are designed to safeguard data, identities, and devices. Buy technology with native (built-in) security features, such as preloaded security software and BIOS protection that allows you to lock down your hard drive, wipe data when needed, and enable a wide range of authentication options.
6. Small businesses tend to be more lax about physical security. Everyone at your company knows each other, right?
- Best Defense: Prevent internal cybercrime by limiting physical access to data. Keep the server room locked and allow access only for employees who specifically need it. If you maintain physical backups on-site, lock them up. Protect devices and data on the go by using simple, physical protection such as security covers for tablets or a lock for laptops.
No matter how small your business is, taking cybersecurity seriously is essential to protecting what you’ve worked so hard to build.