Sophisticated software, faster networks, and the vast amount of data that is stored, transmitted, and used today have changed the business landscape completely. While it has improved productivity and decreased the time it takes to get information or products in the hands of consumers, it has also provided a fertile breeding ground for an entirely different industry: cybercrime. No business, regardless of size, is immune to information security threats or the need for robust security measures to thwart them.
Impacts of Cyber Crime
Though two-thirds of senior decision-makers in small businesses believe that they are unlikely targets for cybercriminals, and 60% of those same decision-makers have no strategy in place for cyber security, the reality is that small business comprises 43% of online targets. Those statistics are sobering when you consider that information security attacks currently cost an average of $200,000 for all sizes of companies. The total cost is projected to reach $5.2 trillion worldwide within five years.
The facts could suggest that the real threat is not from hackers and the damage they can do, but from the refusal of business owners to recognize the vulnerabilities that exist to their information security. Data breaches damage consumer trust, leading to a direct impact on the bottom line. While a major retailer may be able to weather the storm, the effect on a small business could be catastrophic. Cyber security is even more critical to the sustainability of a small business.
Ways to Protect Your Business
Employee negligence constitutes 54% of all data breaches. Whether from failure to secure data, inability to secure access credentials, responding to phishing emails, or clicking on links that introduce malicious code into the network, employees are often the unwitting partner in cybercrime. Fortunately, there are several ways to safeguard your digital assets from internal and external threats.
- Cyber security training
- Strong passwords
- Anti-virus software
- Email scanning
- Security consultants
The adage “forewarned is forearmed” is a good one to remember when referring to information security. Making sure your employees at every level of the company understand the types of methods used by bad actors to gain access to your digital assets is one of your first lines of defense. Frequent reminders of the kinds of intrusions and how to respond if they encounter them is key to it becoming second nature to recognize them. Educating your staff on how to implement strong passwords and ensuring that they must be changed regularly is another crucial security factor.
There are many types of anti-virus and email scanning software that are available as software-as-a-service (SAAS). A cloud-based solution makes it easy to stay on top of updates and keeps security affordable for small businesses. Another critical element of cyber security is ensuring that your network is protected by firewalls to make it harder for hackers to gain access to internal systems and data.
With the rapid increase in data breaches and their potential impacts, particularly to a small business, hiring security consultants to assess your vulnerabilities and advise on the best combination of software, security protocols, and training for your business is a wise investment that has the potential for a nearly incalculable ROI. Hancock and Poole Security have the subject matter experts to advise, educate, and implement practices to protect your small business from intrusion.