Why Your Small Business Needs to Up Its Cyber Security Game and How to Get Started

When you’re a small business, it can be easy to believe that some of the risks that affect larger organizations won’t affect you. And while this may be true in some respects, it can become dangerous when it comes to things like cyber security. Why? Because half of all cyber attacks now target small businesses.

If you don’t take the steps necessary to protect yourself, you could find your business having to choose between paying off an attacker or losing all of your critical data. You could also find yourself needing to figure out how to break the news to your customers that you’ve lost control of their sensitive information like their account names and passwords—or even their credit card numbers.

Fortunately, many cyber attacks can be prevented, but you must take the right precautions. You need to be proactive rather than reactive if you want to ensure that your business is protected.

Below are a few tips on how you can start improving your small business’s cybersecurity today.

Why Hackers Target Small Businesses

In the past few years, the number of attacks on small businesses has continued to climb. Our perception is that hackers, especially the pros, tend to target big targets with huge amounts of information and individual’s data. Part of that has to do with what winds up in the news: breaches of Yahoo, LinkedIn, Wells Fargo, and more tend to dominate the headlines while the hack of a small business isn’t necessarily going to be front page news.

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But this is exactly why hackers target small businesses. SMBs simply don’t have the same resources to devote to cybersecurity as larger companies and attacks can more easily fly under the radar.

Staying on top of your bottom line is hard enough, but unless it’s directly related to your line of business you simply don’t have the people, time, or energy to devote to making airtight security. There isn’t an IT staff looking over your shoulder mandating password rules, double checking device security, keeping patches up-to-date, etc.

At first glance, you might think, “What could I possibly have that’s worth stealing?” The answer may surprise you. Login information that might be doubled on other sites; credit card numbers for fraud schemes; the W9s or 1099s of your employees for identity theft; login credentials for bigger companies you work with; all of this and more can be quite valuable to a hacker who knows how to leverage it. Even worse, they know what to do with data that’s more valuable to you than it is to them.

The Threat of Ransomware

Imagine logging into your computer and slowly noticing that something odd was going on. At first, nothing seems that much out of the ordinary. Gradually, you notice your computer is acting a little sluggish, and then one by one your file names start to get replaced by weird strings of numbers until you can’t seem to open anything at all. That’s when you notice the new document sitting on your desktop with a simple message: “Your files are encrypted, pay me $2,400 or lose them for good.”

Ransomware is becoming a huge issue for small businesses. They don’t have the resources to protect themselves, and they don’t have the size or credibility to be able to wait out an attack. If your key operational data is locked down and you don’t have a good backup measure, you’re going to try to get back up and running as quickly as possible—and that often means simply paying a hacker off.

But even if you do make the payment, it’s not a guarantee that you’ll be able to get your data back. Last year, the internet was buzzing with news of a new attack that was rapidly spreading across the globe. WannaCry soon became the biggest news of the year In June, the German email provider that ran the accounts that WannaCry directed users to send their BitCoin ransom information to shut down all of their accounts. This leaves the hackers with no way to cash in their profits, but it also means that even those who paid their ransom have no way to recover their information.

How Managed Services Can Protect You

If you’re a small business, you need a way to bolster your web security game if you want to survive an attack, whether it’s an intrusion, ransomware, or a simple DDoS attack. The good news is that there are new services available that can give you access to top-notch web security without having to bring on an entire IT staff.

A Managed Service Provider (MSP) or ISP (Internet Service Provider) that provides managed services can give you access to high-powered options like round-the-clock monitoring of your system’s security, help desk support, new equipment set-up, backups, and the like for less than a full-time IT tech’s salary. You figure out what services you need with the help of the MSP, and they take care of the rest. Because they’re able to figure out exactly how to fulfill their contract, it makes it easier for them to provide top-notch protection for a reasonable price.

What You Can Do Right Now

If you’re a small business, it’s time to start thinking about how to protect yourself in case you find yourself targeted by a hacker’s cyber attack. More and more SMBs are being victimized, both because they’re easier targets and also because they’re more likely to pay a ransom. New techniques to hold your data hostage are being developed daily, and even if you do pay your attacker, there’s no guarantee you’ll ever get your data back.

Luckily, you can take steps to make yourself more resilient and better prepared, especially if you get a Managed Service Provider involved. Make sure you have the proper protections in place before it’s too late.

  • Half of all cyber attacks target small businesses.

  • Small businesses are less able to defend themselves and often lack IT support.

  • Small businesses are more likely to pay a ransom because they can’t afford to lose their data.

  • Managed IT Services offer an affordable way to boost your resilience and protect yourself against an attack.

Chelsea Segal

Chelsea Segal

Chelsea Segal is the CEO of Targetwise. TARGETWISE empowers agencies, brands + marketers with results-oriented solutions that grow, nurture + maintain a social ecosphere.

Neutralizing all digital channels, we accelerate performance by applying data driven optimizationin real-time across a superior blend of mobile, video,display and email inventory. Converting the right people at the right time, we drive brand solutions, while securing optimal impact, engagement + results.
Chelsea Segal