Cyberattacks and data leaks have made headlines in plenty of national outlets. Companies like Target and Sears have experienced major bouts of cybercrime. Even though this danger is getting a spotlight, many small businesses still don’t take cyber security seriously.
Recent studies from organizations like Symantec, Kaspersky Lab, and the National Cyber Security Alliance indicate that most small businesses lack official internet security policies for their employees. Only about half have basic security measures, and roughly a quarter have asked outside parties to test their computer systems. Plus, almost 40% have neglected to back their data up in at least two locations.
Small Doesn’t Necessarily Mean Safe
Many small businesses mistakenly believe they are unlikely targets. In fact, 85% think their company is safe from hackers, viruses, malware, and data breaches.
However, data thieves aren’t looking for size; they’re looking for easy targets. According to Symantec’s study, 43% of attacks are waged against businesses and organizations that employ fewer than 250 people.
Small businesses can also open themselves up to cybercrime by trusting employees too much. Many try to foster family-like atmospheres, which can result in lax cyber security measures that angry or recently fired employees can exploit.
Cybercrime Can Ruin a Business
Large companies are tightening up their data security, making smaller businesses more attractive to hackers. And it’s costing those enterprises.
A Ponemon Institute study recently reported that cyberattacks cost small- and medium-sized businesses more than $2 million on average per year. Many hesitate to improve their cyber security because they fear the cost. As a result, nearly 60% of small businesses close within six months of experiencing cybercrime.
10 Tips for Preventing Cyberattacks
If you own a small business, you may not have the resources to hire an expert who can test your computer systems and offer cyber security recommendations. Yet, you can still take a few cost-effective steps to reduce your risk.
1. Offer employees cyber security training.
2. Install antivirus and antispyware software on all business computers. Then, update the software regularly.
3. Make sure your internet connection has a firewall.
4. Update your operating systems and applications frequently.
5. Back up critical business data and information.
6. Limit and control physical access to network components and computers.
7. Secure and hide your Wi-Fi network.
8. Give each employee an individual user account.
9. Limit an employee’s access to information along with their authority to install software.
10. Frequently change passwords.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) also offers a tool that small businesses can use to create custom cyber security plans. It also features a menu of expert advice that will help address your business’s unique needs and concerns. Find it at www.fcc.gov/cyberplanner.
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