Did you know that 60 percent of small and mid-sized businesses that are hacked go out of business within six months? That’s according to the National Cyber Security Alliance.
Here’s the deal:
Large organizations like Equifax and Target aren't the only ones affected by cyber attacks. In fact, small to mid-sized businesses are just as likely to experience a data breach. Hackers suspect that smaller businesses aren’t armed with sophisticated security systems, and in many cases, they are correct.
Many small businesses struggle to maintain security due to their smaller staff and a tighter budget. As entrepreneurs focus on growing the business, they tend to put off laying a foundation for cybersecurity.
But with fewer people to manage and assets to track, laying that foundation isn’t as complicated or costly as it seems. Small businesses that allocate resources to security in the early stages benefit significantly. This strategy can also help them gain the trust of more clients, and in turn, fuel growth.
What’s at stake?
What are these menacing hackers after? Critical information from your business that they can use for their financial gain. Here are a few key examples:
- Customer records & payment information
- Intellectual property
- Financial information
- Employee records
How often does your company handle this type of information? How many of your employees touch this type of data on a daily basis?
Leaders need a clear strategy for understanding the data they have, assessing its value to the company (and to cyber attackers), and developing a plan to protect that data.
Where are the gaps?
Threats to your company’s data security are always lurking, looking for a gap or vulnerability in your processes. These vulnerabilities are all around. Let’s take a look at just a few examples.
Something as simple as a poorly executed policy for maintaining passwords can bring down an entire company. Allowing employees to utilize weak passwords, keep the same password for an extended time period, or not sufficiently encrypting passwords leaves a gaping hole in your security strategy. One way companies can solve this is to implement two-factor authentication for all passwords.
Skipping routine software updates is another way to make your company vulnerable. Think software updates only exist to give you access to the latest features or a fresh user interface? Think again. Software updates include the most recent security protocols to keep your devices and your data safe from cyber attack. Maintaining an accurate inventory of all hardware and software assets within the organization will help to close gaps in the security strategy.
You may be surprised to hear that your employees are the most common cybersecurity vulnerability. This is not to suggest that they are working as hackers, but rather that many people are unaware of how to identify a phishing scam.
Today’s phishing scams are more sophisticated than previous scams that were easier to spot, such as the mysterious email from an African ancestor ready to wire you a small fortune.
Imagine receiving an email from what looks like your HR director, with an attachment that reads “Compensation Report.” Would you open that? Likely you would. Which is why it’s imperative that companies employ robust cybersecurity plans – to keep phishing emails from hitting your inbox in the first place.
What’s the impact?
A data breach leaves a tremendous and lasting impact on any company. And as we said earlier, many small businesses don’t survive the next six months.
Companies spend heavily attempting to recover data following a cyber attack. Not only do they spend more, they typically bring in less as clients leave and sales plummet.
It can take years to establish a brand and build trust with clients, but all of that can be destroyed overnight.
Business owners can face legal woes as a result of a cyber attack as well. Depending on your industry, you could be at risk of violating compliance regulations, for example, healthcare facilities that handle protected health information (PHI) or data protected under HIPAA laws.
When IT departments are stretched thin, it’s nearly impossible to take a proactive approach to data security. A partner like Mandry Technology can help your company secure critical data and have peace of mind. We work with businesses of all sizes to identify gaps and vulnerabilities, evaluate risk, and prioritize proactive solutions.
Request an expert assessment and see for yourself how we’re redefining the IT experience.