Data has become one of the most valuable commodities on the market today, even more than the value of oil. And not just for insights into consumers for marketing means, but for cyber criminals to sell on the dark web too. Therefore, the sheer value of a company’s data makes unsecured data the most sought-after commodity for cyber criminals. However, most SMBs do not take cybersecurity seriously enough. Because of this, cyber crime has become the #1 security threat to local small businesses.
Lack of data security efforts in SMBs makes cyber crime the #1 security threat.
Despite this, 60% of small and medium-sized businesses do not have adequate cybersecurity strategies in place. Nor do they have any kind of response action plan for when it does inevitably happen.
Sometimes, business owners think that cyber-criminals aren’t interested in their business. Maybe they believe that they are too small to get noticed. But cyber criminals are opportunists who look for the path of least resistance.
It’s all too common for companies to believe that if they’re not collecting and storing sensitive information, they’re not at risk. Or, they may believe that the data they have isn’t of interest to cyber criminals. But the reality is, that’s exactly who criminals tend to prey on, and for that exact reason.
Cyber criminals are interested in all types of valuable data. As such, small and medium-sized companies are easy targets because they don’t take many extra precautions.
And it is not only data that criminals are looking for.
They can also intercept your payments. There are many reasons cyber criminals would target a smaller company. Besides weak security measures, small businesses also tend to be in direct contact with suppliers. To get to this more intimate communication, criminals will breach the WiFi networks and weasel their way into unsuspected pathways. This allows them to intercept sensitive information unsuspected.
For example, one way to steal money is to intercept an email invoice requesting payment. The hacker manipulates the information in the email, replacing the account number for the deposit with their own. This is a sneaky way to steal a business’s payments that usually takes quite a while to figure out.
No business is too big, or too small to be a target of cyber crime.
This “it won’t happen to us” mentality leads to a tremendous problem for small businesses. For instance, consider that the costs involved with being the victim of a cyber attack can put a small company out of business. Besides monetary costs, being the victim of a cybersecurity attack significantly undermines the trust consumers have in a company. Unfortunately, this can have a lasting effect on brand and customer loyalty crippling their reputation for years.
Small and medium-sized businesses can no longer continue operating under a false sense of security. They can’t continue to believe that they’re flying under the radar. Developing strategies aimed at the management and reduction of cybersecurity risk, allows SMBs to join the fight against cyber-crime.
Business owners must begin the implementation of Best Practices and meet current data security standards. And it is not as hard as it may seem.
There are cybersecurity steps small business owners can take easily and immediately:
A great place to start:
- Visit the U.S. Small Business Administration cybersecurity site. You’ll gain cybersecurity education as well as insight on valuable tools available to organizations.
- Audit your company’s current security measures and identify where the weaknesses are. The National Institute of Standards and Technology offers their Cybersecurity Framework as a tool to allow business owners to perform a self-assessment. Then, “based on existing standards, guidelines, and practices for organizations to better manage and reduce cybersecurity risk”.
- First, figure out what exactly you have that could be at risk. Is it customer data, employee records, payment information or intellectual property? Or all of the above?
- Second, decide which security measures you can handle in house, and what you might need to outsource to a third party.
Assess your current cybersecurity strategy.
- Do you even have someone in charge of cybersecurity? Assign the task of all cyber security efforts to a specific team member. Make sure that they can communicate and coordinate with the various departments, team members and employees.
- Use technology such as artificial intelligence and machine learning to help create resilience from cyber attacks. There are simple tools available that you can use to scan through code and pinpoint weak code. This will help to protect against hackers browsing the internet from getting in through these weak code areas.
- Make sure your WiFi is secure and keep your website safe by using fraud detection software. For instance, installing intrusion detection software (regularly updated) detects possible intruders before they intercept valuable information. Meanwhile, website scanners are designed to detect and automatically remove website malware. And a web application firewall (WAF) helps to only allow safe traffic through.
- Don’t only rely on antivirus software to keep your data safe. These days, businesses must also use firewalls, encryption software and two-step authentication besides antivirus. Endpoint security systems and third party or cloud data back-up solutions help round out a good cyber-security strategy.
Start with your employees:
- Training and education go a long way to help employees understand the potential of a cyber attack. And it will teach them to recognize the common signs associated with different types of potential attacks. In short, empower them to adopt a healthy dose of skepticism and to just be more aware.
- Increase security through insisting on strong passwords. Sometimes security breaches are caused unintentionally by reckless employee behavior. Therefor, empower employees to feel like an active member of the security team.
Prevention is your best cybersecurity strategy.
The best way to empower your business to survive a cyber attack? Catch the incident at its inception, then respond swiftly before they do too much damage.
As we forge into the future of a digital world, businesses face growing cybersecurity threats. Therefore, SMBs must be more proactive with their cybersecurity.
At Bankcard Brokers, we take the security of our clients’ and their patrons’ data very seriously. We hope you found this informational article educational. Above all, we hope it motivates you to inspect into your own security efforts.
If you are interested in merchant services, payment gateways or security solutions, call us today.
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