How You Can Survive The Digital War On Small Businesses?

How You Can Survive The Digital War On Small Businesses?

Photo by DirtyOpi on Pixabay

14 million. That’s the number of small businesses hacked in the past year. If that number doesn’t scare you, it should – it means that, after years of flying beneath the radar of most criminals, your business might well be in their crosshairs.

See, hackers are kind of like electrical currents. They naturally follow the path of least resistance. And while the payoffs of hacking a major enterprise might be significant, such companies are anything but easy victims.

The reason for that is pretty simple – the security budget of a major corporation probably dwarfs the entire operating budget of most small businesses. In other words, if they find a vulnerability in their system that a hacker can exploit, they can quite literally just throw money at the problem until it goes away. Smaller organizations don’t have that luxury.

And criminals know that – but most small business owners apparently don’t.

“When asked if they felt their business was at risk of experiencing a data breach, an overwhelming 87% of small business owners said they do not feel at risk,” reads a post on the Manta Security Blog. “[And] only 69% of small business owners have controls in place to prevent hacks – meaning 1 in 3 have no safeguards in place [at all].”

It gets worse. Even those businesses that do have IT controls in place may still have security that’s weak, at best. Most don’t even have an IT expert on-staff.

“The general majority of small business owners don’t have an IT person,” John Swanciger, Manta’s CEO, explained in an interview with CNBC. “It’s not the first place they spend their money. They’re really relying on themselves to update their software and check for security patches.”

This line of thinking is dangerous to both you and your customers. The fact is that incidents like Home Depot and Target are outliers. Sure, hacker

But if given the choice between an enterprise with no obvious security vulnerabilities and a small business whose IT guy is the founder’s brother, Bill? They’re going to go for the latter every time. They’ll attack eCommerce storefronts to steal credit cards, infest computers with ransomware to extort money, or attempt to steal customer data and intellectual property from your servers.

And unlike major corporations, a small business usually doesn’t have the operating budget to survive a cyberattack – 60% of small organizations that experience a breach go out of business within six months.

Right. We’ve drilled home the fact that your data is at risk. Now what can you do to protect it?

A few things:

  • Managed hosting. Choose a web host that’ll handle the technical aspects of running your site or servers for you – including security. Even if you don’t have your own security team, a skilled host can easily pick up the slack for you, keeping your data safe in the process.
  • Hire an IT Guy. Seriously. Just do it. Don’t try to make excuses about how you don’t have the budget for one. The amount of money you spend on an IT professional’s salary is far less than what you’d lose in a breach.
  • Educate yourself. Understand the kinds of threats your business might face. Read up on the latest brand of ransomware, what sort of phishing scams are common, and so on. The more you know about how you might be attacked, the better-equipped you’ll be to protect yourself.

You might think your business is too small for hackers to notice. You might think that your budget is too small for you to be a target. But you’re wrong.

Hackers will always follow the path of least resistance – and if you’re slacking on security, then that path leads straight to you.

Matthew Davis is a technical writer and Linux geek for Future Hosting.

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