It’s common to hear about a new cyber attack taking place. Data breaches are incredibly common these days and can impact very nearly any company.
Ironically, small business owners seem to think they are immune to this ever present threat. In 2015, more than half of all small businesses didn’t have a threat to prevent cyber attacks.
Small Business Risks
Large companies, like Amazon or Walmart, spend millions on cyber security every year. They have dedicated staff and managed detection and response services to combat threats. If a threat is detected, it can be quickly identified and addressed, reducing risks.
Small businesses are at a much greater risk. Their information is easier to access and they simply don’t have the funds to track down the cyber criminals responsible. Ask yourself this question; If you were a hacker, which attack would be more likely to succeed?
Small Businesses are Vulnerable
Small businesses are increasingly at risk of an attack. In 2015, 43 percent of cyber attacks were targeted at small businesses with less than 250 employees. Why is this happening? Let’s take a look at five of the major risk factors for small businesses.
The Element of Surprise
According to Phil Goldstein of BizTech, the Ponemon Institute states that 58 percent of small businesses don’t consider cyber attacks a threat. This creates gaping holes in cyber security, making it easy to breach their defenses.
No Policies in Place
Large companies often have extensive policies in place, while only 36 percent of small businesses have any data security policy. This means that small businesses are woefully unprepared in the event of a cyber attack or data breach.
Phishing Schemes Work Better
Employees of small businesses are not trained to identify phishing schemes. Phishing attacks usually occur via email or other software programs and are disguised to look official. They try to trick employees into releasing sensitive information, which is then used for nefarious purposes. Employees of small businesses simply don’t recognize or report the attack due to their lack of awareness.
Ransomware is on the Rise
Earlier this year, ransomware such as WannaCry and NotPetya was used to attack companies and hold their information hostage. Once the ransom was paid, the information was released. However, those that didn’t pay the ransom suffered from devastating data breaches. These major attacks shut down entire governments and put millions of people in danger. This trend is expected to continue and increase in the future.
Small Businesses Go Out of Business After Attacks
Whereas large companies can afford the costs of a breach, most small businesses cannot. The average cost of recovery stands at $690,000. This causes nearly 60 percent of small businesses to fail within six months of a cyber attack.
What You Can Do
Since the cost of recovery often exceeds what a small business can withstand, it is vitally important to be prepared. Preventing an attack in the first place should be a priority. The following tips will help your company survive potential attacks.
Create a Cyber Security Policy
Policies let employees know exactly what to do and who to report to if they suspect a phishing scheme or cyber attack. These policies are in place to minimize the damage of an attack and stop it quickly.
Employees who undergo training, especially in phishing attacks, will be aware of the threat. If an employee is not aware of a threat, they can’t recognize it.
Don’t Rely on Software
Software is a valuable tool, but it is important to have live monitoring and detection to respond quickly to threats and prevent damage.
Small businesses are at a much greater risk than many believe. It is important for a small business to actively prevent an attack for the company to succeed.