Advances in technology have changed the way that people view privacy and people’s perception of what is safe and what is not safe. In the late 90’s and early 2000’s, the thought of revealing your true name in a chat room or your true location was taboo. Now, it’s commonplace on sites like Twitter and Facebook.
Problems arise when our familiarity with technology causes us to have a nonchalant attitude toward online security at our small or medium enterprise. Reports show that upward of 14 million businesses in the United States are at risk for a hacker threat. However, fewer than three percent of small business owners think that a cyber attack could affect them. Nothing could be further from the truth. The following are four reasons why SMEs need to exercise caution online.
SMEs Are Prime Targets for Cyber Crime
The Challenge: Businesses that have less than 100 employees suffer on average a loss of $155,000 annually as a result of online fraud. Two out of three small to medium enterprises that fall victim to online fraud shutdown within the first six months. The problem is that small businesses believe that they are too small to be noticed. They mistakenly assume that hackers are looking to make a big score off of larger corporations. The truth is that a small business with few resources is more likely to suffer fraud than a larger corporation.
The Solution: Understanding the serious nature of the threat is the first step in protecting your business from cyber crime. Adding two factor authentication and antivirus and anti-spyware programs and securing the company’s Wi-Fi network are key steps in protecting your business from cyber crime.
Online Attacks Can Damage a Business’s Reputation
The Challenge: When we read stories online of corporations that have weathered major breaches in their online security, one could walk away with the impression that it’s easy for a business to keep going after a cyber attack. This is because you do not see what goes on behind the scenes. Major corporations invest millions of dollars in repairing their reputation, retaining customers, and paying compensation to those who are damaged.
Small to medium enterprises do not have the financial backing needed to weather a storm of this type. Malware, malicious redirects, and other sources of cyber attacks can make a small to medium enterprise look untrustworthy. SEO spam can make your website rank for non-relevant keywords and even prevent your site from ranking for relevant ones. This means that customers will find it difficult to reach your website and find the results that they want.
Image credit – Privacy Australia
The Solution: Many small to medium enterprises use VPNs as a way of protecting their online security. While this is a good move, you need to know that not all VPNs are created equal. Some VPNs have poor logging policies, which mean that they are recording the sites you visit and the information you transmit or receive. In some cases this has led to a business inadvertently putting its own privacy or the privacy of its customers at risk, thereby damaging its reputation. Using a VPN is good, but make sure that it has strict logging policies.
The Challenge: Information online including addresses, Social Security numbers, or email addresses are vulnerable to data breaches by Internet hackers. The fact of the matter is that it is virtually impossible for a small to medium enterprise to completely safeguard their company from these attacks.
The Solution: You can take some precautionary measures like working with online security companies to help minimize the risk of attack. If your business shares customer data with others, including suppliers or partners, you must make sure that they have the proper cyber security in place. If you cannot afford to have a cyber security expert on your staff 24 hours a day seven days a week, you may want to think about hiring one for certain projects or have one review your system on a time to time basis. This way, you can make sure that you are up-to-date with the latest in security measures.
Your Data Can Be Held Ransom
The Challenge: Ransomware attacks are growing in scale and severity. With a ransomware attack, cyber criminals will encrypt your business data, blocking your access to it. They will offer a decryption key in exchange for X amount of dollars, usually paid in crypto currency. Until your business pays the ransom, cyber criminals can literally grind your business to a halt. Whether or not you should pay the ransom is a topic of much discussion. Many small to medium businesses have paid the ransom and still have not had their files decrypted.
The Solution: You can protect yourself by regularly backing up your company’s data to a remote backup. This way, anything that’s lost in a ransomware attack can be immediately recovered. If your backups are stored somewhere else, there is nothing that cyber criminals can hold ransom. It’s important for you to educate your employees so that they also understand how important it is to protect your company’s sensitive data.
Has your small to medium enterprise successfully staved off cyber attacks? Are you concerned about future cyber attacks? If so, would love to hear from you in our common section.