cyber threat is real

No one is truly safe online. Cyber threat is real. Whilst not many people are aware, security data breaches happen every day, exposing sensitive information about people’s email addresses, passwords, social security numbers, and credit card information. 

Sadly, a large number of people have a little grasp of the intensity of such breaches until it directly affects them, unless they become victims of identity theft or malicious financial transactions. In the US alone, there is a new victim of identity theft every two seconds, a recent study claims. 

As of July 2019, at least 4 billion records have been exposed through data breaches. This included credit card numbers, phone numbers, home addresses, and other sensitive information. 

What Can Hackers Gain From Your Small Business?

Surprisingly and unbeknownst to many, almost half of all the cyberattacks are directed towards small businesses. Despite this alarming information, many small business owners seem undaunted. They believe that hackers will not spend time tinkering with their business and would often opt for big corporations. This notion comes from the thinking that hackers will get the most by targeting bigger establishments. However, hackers often target small businesses because they are much easier to attack since most of their security measures are often lacking or missing. 

Cyber threat can target any business, regardless of their size, because they have much to gain. This includes:

Financial Gain

Hackers do what they do because they can financially gain from it. Hacking into businesses’ system and getting access to sensitive and confidential data, hackers can steal valuable data including login data and payment details and use it to ask for payment or ransom. Oftentimes, hackers go after high-value corporate data which should be protected by several layers of security but are not. They use various methods to achieve this including phishing scams and inserting malicious software or a combination of the two. 

Whichever method a hacker use, this translates to an upper hand on their part. Hackers can easily go for acquiring credit card information but sometimes their attacks do not involve any information theft. One example of this is the WannaCry and Petya attacks. The hackers used cyberextortion by encrypting data and demanding payment from the businesses so they can access their own files. 

Cyber Attack Information

When cyberattacks happen, it is often to steal usernames and passwords to gain access to payment details but they can also be used for other purposes. It can be used to impersonate you as a business owner or someone from your organisation. This type of attack can be possible in different ways:

  • Hacking into a CEO’s account may allow a hacker to command the employees anything, which may be detrimental to the business. 
  • Gaining access into the customer service may allow a hacker to send messages to customers and defraud them. 
  • Hacking into accounts may allow a hacker to obtain login information from high-value targets.

Whilst these instances is not as bad as having stolen credit card information, this data breach must be publicly announced and investigated. For a small company, a data breach may have significant negative effects on your reputation, which can cause you to lose money and face in the industry. 

Sabotage

It may be hard to believe but there are hackers whose motivation to cause cyber attacks is to cause disruption and not financial gain. They are not out to steal important company information but they can do this as a form of protest or can be commissioned by a competitor to get an advantage over your business. 

There will be times that your business may be used as a guinea pig from some skilled trolls who attack to build their reputation in the industry. Cyber attacks whose intention is to disrupt your business may be in the form of overwhelming your server with robust requests that it can no longer process. Think about it: your website only has the capacity to handle an “n” number of visitors in a day. When it receives as much as 20,000 visitors in one day, it may slow down and even become unresponsive, making it inaccessible to real visitors. The result: disrupted business. 

What You Can Do to Protect Your Business Against Cyber Attacks

Admit You Need Cybersecurity.

One of the first steps to protect your business against cyber attacks is to admit that you need cybersecurity. You have to understand that cyber threat is real and it chooses anyone. 

Get Advice. 

It is important to get solid and reliable advice from someone with in-depth knowledge about cyber attacks. Take note that all information including data and technology involved in cybersecurity continuously evolve. It is a must that you have a pair of outside eyes. This is to make sure the cybersecurity tools you have in place are doing its job in protecting your business. 

Working with a cybersecurity expert is also your protection. In case of a cyber-attack, it can serve as proof that you made adequate measures to secure your website. 

Create a Plan. 

Companies must have a cybersecurity policy and defence plan in case of an attack. This plan must put into detail the company’s security measures. This is to ensure that the business, the employees, and related networks have enough protection. The cyber plan must also detail the steps the company must undertake in case of an attack. 

Secure a Cybersecurity Insurance.

Small businesses must always include in their plan cybersecurity insurance. As scary as it may seem but most businesses often stop their businesses following a security breach. What cybersecurity insurance does is it shifts the risk from the business towards the insurance company in case of a cyber attack. Since insurance companies are great in managing risks, they can handle it a lot better than most small businesses. 

However, small business owners must keep in mind that having cybersecurity insurance is not tantamount to a solid cybersecurity plan. Owners must know that some cybersecurity insurance companies include a provision. These provisions detail the specific measures the company must undertake to receive coverage. This means that in case of a cyberattack, the insurance company must first verify if your company complied with the needed policies and procedure. Once confirmed, they can grant your claim. 

Whilst the threat of cyber attack is real, small business owners can take solace in the fact that there is still something they can do to avoid it.

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