In just a year’s time, 50% of small businesses became victims to cyberattack. While it seems that big businesses would have more to worry about in the way of cybersecurity, hackers are increasingly drawn to smaller, more vulnerable organizations — meaning small business owners need to take the necessary precautions. Let’s find out why.
What Puts Small Businesses at Risk?
Small business cyberattacks are on the rise. Hackers know that small businesses don’t take security as seriously as large ones do. In fact, 82% of small business owners believe they aren’t at risk because they don’t think they have anything worth stealing. That’s simply not true. Hackers can steal your financial information, personally identifiable information, and intellectual property.
Still think you’re not at risk? Visa has said that 95% of credit card breaches they find come from small businesses. Hackers know there’s something worth stealing from small businesses, and they know it’s easy to get, making them a prime target.
Types of Cyberattacks
The types of cyberattacks you might experience will vary, so it’s important to be aware of them and educate your employees about how to reduce your data breach risk. Here are a few of the most prominent types of cyberattacks your small business might encounter:
- Phishing Scams: Phishing scams occur when someone contacts you posing as another person or organization to get your information. For example, hackers might email your financial department from an email that looks like it’s from your bank, asking you to verify your password or other financial information. Once they have that data, they can gain access to your business’ funds. If hackers get ahold of an employee’s or business partner’s email credentials, they can also use those to send out what looks like legitimate emails to gain more information about your business.
- Internal hacks: Hacks can come from inside your own business. Disgruntled employees or former employees who still have access to their business credentials pose a threat to small businesses. They may steal company data or trade secrets. If employees leave their computers unattended, hackers can gain internal access that way, too.
- Hack attacks: Hackers can gain access to company data through unpatched vulnerabilities in your software. In this situation, hackers tend to target credit card information, and they can do so from a remote location.
Cyberattack Effects on Small Businesses
If your organization falls victim to a cyberattack, it can negatively impact you in many ways. The immediate effect involves cost. On average, security breaches cost small businesses $38,000. You’ll spend an estimated $10,000 on hiring lawyers, security consultants, and other professionals to clean up following a cyberattack. You’ll lose about $5,000 in business opportunities. And the attack will cost you $23,000 on average in downtime. Cyberattacks can also ruin your reputation, leading to less business down the road, which can cause some small businesses to close.
How to Protect Yourself
It’s important to have security measures in place to prevent an attack from ever occurring — which will save money and your reputation in the long run. You can mitigate your risk by:
- Training your employees to reduce human error
- Keeping your security software current
- Protecting all company and employee devices from viruses and malware
- Encrypting sensitive files
- Having a security plan in place, including steps to take when you fire someone (so disgruntled former employees can’t hack your systems) and how to respond if your systems are compromised
- Purchasing cyber insurance to restore your systems after an attack
Small businesses are a prime target for hackers, so it’s important that you don’t underestimate your risk. That said, if you have security measures in place and educate your employees about how to handle data and spot potential attacks, you can drastically reduce your risk and conduct business with peace of mind.