It is easy to fall into the mistaken idea that you already possess enough safeguards in place to protect your small business. It is likely you stay current with the latest antivirus software, but is that enough? You also probably think that since you’re not really a huge corporation, you don’t have to worry about cyber criminals hacking into your system. But here’s the unfortunate reality: cyber criminals have upped their game and are beginning to target small businesses more and more. Let’s take a closer look to give you a better understanding of the level of danger your business may be under.
Small firms: low-hanging fruit
The truth is, hackers have found that small businesses are easier targets, and therefore are increasingly preying upon them. They are able to infiltrate their systems at a much faster rate, and with a better percentage of success as well. This means a cyber criminal can assault multiple targets in the time it would take them to lay siege to a better-guarded system with a higher level of data security. How can it be worth their while to steal from a mom and pop business? In the current modern world, practically every business makes use of digital payment processing methods. Whenever your customers pay using a credit card, this data must run through your system to be validated. This represents a goldmine of information for hackers, as they can lift this information without being noticed. With your customers’ credit card numbers, addresses and names, they can make fraudulent charges on their accounts.
How hackers gain access to your data
How can they get this sensitive data? Though you might be protected by software meant to firewall your systems, hackers still have numerous points of entry. Email attachments are a serious offender, and openingjust one piece of malware can leave you exposed. The fact is, in the first quarter of this year alone, industry experts have discovered over six million different malware programs. Attackers don’t need to be sophisticated to be dangerous: when attempting to breach your data security, some hackers take a low-tech strategy instead. They might contact your employees directly, and pretending to be a network administrator, ask for their password to improve security. This is known as “phishing.” While you may believe your employees know better than to be seduced by such an obvious tact, it takes merely one lapse in judgment to leave your systems open to attack.
The buck stops with you
Many people think that since credit card companies are usually responsible for any deceptive charges that occur from a hacking event, that data security isn’t crucial. While this may be true for a consumer, for a business owner the outcome may be very different. Consumers will hold you accountable personally should their information be stolen. Damage control after an attack can cost a business thousands of dollars and in some cases a single attack can spell the end of business in general.
An ounce of prevention…
Data security is critical and any additional precautions you can take would be wise. Use strong passwords and update your current security systems regularly. Educate your employees on safety measures they can take, such as creating strong passwords and never giving out login information. Hiring an outside consultant to help you ensure you and your client’s information is safe is another good idea. Simple measures can give you peace of mind that your systems are safe, and your clients will know you have their best interests at heart.
Posted on: 02.08.12