It’s National Cyber Security Month and there is a pressing clamor from consumers for tighter digital security controls to protect the digital rights of Internet users. This comes on the heels of the Equifax hack which has been coined “a wake-up call” along with demands that the “stupid user” concept be ceased immediately. The “stupid user” tactic used by many online companies lays the blame on users for failing to be more careful with their personal and private information. While there are those who don’t take precautions when using the Internet, most of the alarming security hacks were done to companies with big database.
If you are an entrepreneur dreaming of owning and running a profitable business, then having a strong cyber security framework will keep you from failing right out the gate. Studies show that 43% of cyber criminals have now focused their time and efforts on small to medium businesses for the simple reason that many entrepreneurs think “they are too small for hackers to be interested.”
In fact, about 60% of all new online businesses fail within six months of starting because of a cyber attack, while almost 50% of data breaches are not caused by systems failure or human error by employees but by malicious intent. Surprisingly, criminals do not target financial information of a company. Their top 3 priorities are customer information, intellectual property, and credit card information. In spite of the number of hacking cases every month, around 51% of SMEs neglect or purposely avoid a budget for risk mitigation.
Today, all online businesses have to factor in digital security. There are several reasons for this:
- Enhanced security increases credibility and improves your chances to win the trust and loyalty of new and returning customers
- Security software will help you run your business more efficiently with a lower risk factor
- Reduces your downtime giving you more time to focus on business growth
- Lowers your cyber security insurance premium
What Cyber Criminals Can Target and the Cost of Hacking
SMEs have precious data that are enticing to criminals such as email addresses, billing addresses, and phone numbers. With that information, they can steal from the individual’s account within 2 days. They can access your customers’ social media information, computers and install malware, get passwords, Social Security number, date of birth, and other data that will allow them to impersonate your customers.
One case of a small business that closed due to a weak security was reported in the Denver Post last October 2016. An employee opened an email that infected the system and hackers demanded $50,000 to restore the system. The company paid but the decryption key they were given failed and they closed their doors after six months. Ponemon Institute reports that the average cost to a small business to recover from a cyber attack is $690,000 and over $1 million for a medium-sized company.
How to Keep your Website Secure
Here are quick, practical tips on how to secure your business against cyber crime:
- Invest in reputable security software with frequent updates against online threats that extends to supplier communications, customer inquiries, testimonials, etc.
- Delete suspicious emails, content with questionable links especially from social media platforms.
- Encrypt all sensitive files.
- Nothing should be connected to the company Internet without going through stringent screening including personal devices
- Require sophisticated password creation and regular password changes, make it mandatory
- Train all employees, temps, subs – anyone with access to your system
- Establish protocol for possible hacking: what steps to take immediately
- Backup your files securely in different locations including cloud to prevent ransomware attacks
As the business owner, you should also have a failsafe system which enables you to revoke employee access to your system at any time. Over 31% of attacks are from insiders, people you think you can trust, or were blackmailed into doing something.
If you need help with your cyber security, contact us today!