Small businesses lack the protection of a cyber security program because of the assumption that his or her enterprise is too small to be at risk or cybersecurity services are too expensive to adequately protect company data. The reality is that small businesses are often targeted by hackers because they are the “low hanging fruit” due to weaker or nonexistent security procedures. A 2017 report by Ponemon Institute, revealed 61 percent of small companies experienced a cyber attack of some kind where only 14 percent of small businesses have the ability to mitigate cyber risks, vulnerabilities and attacks.
What’s the worst that can happen?
The impact of no security
Unfortunately, small businesses end up going out of business following a cyber attack for several reasons but there are three reasons in particular that are very significant: First, customer loyalty is jeopardized when the business owner compromises customers’ personal information. Second, cyber attacks targeting the companies website may have them offline or inaccessible for an extended period of time resulting in customers going elsewhere to spend their money. Third, cost to repair the damage from an attack or legal costs incurred from customers seeking compensation for their information becoming compromised.
For small business owners it should be your priority to protect customer information. The discrepancy with this priority is that small businesses often do not understand the value of the data they house. Email addresses, phone numbers and billing addresses are just a few examples of personally identifiable information that is considered valuable to cybercriminals. In nearly every cyber attack, the goal is to steal and exploit sensitive data, such as: credit card information, bank account data, or personal identity information. For a small business owner, this data can be found in checkout forms, employment applications, or customer databases.
Many small business owners never consider their cybersecurity posture until they have already been hit with an attack. Companies that fail to regularly upgrade software solutions or fail to enforce effective password policies or encrypt databases or monitor business credit reports (to name a few) leave themselves susceptible to an assortment of cyber attacks. Also, a lack of awareness about preventing web based attacks, recognizing phishing/social engineering schemes, or knowledge of vulnerabilities in third party applications make small businesses the easiest to target. We understand that the idea of cyber security seems foreign and overwhelming but it is truly a necessity for all businesses, especially ones that take payment or customer information via their online platform. In a nutshell, cybersecurity should not be ignored because small businesses need cybersecurity to safeguard and maintain -- privacy, client trust, financial integrity, employee integrity, data integrity and the longevity of the business.