When small business owners read news reports about the cyber-attacks that large corporations suffer, they tend to do so with a sense of detachment — as if those kinds of things would never happen to them.
They imagine that hackers would only want to target J.P. Morgan Chase, American Express and Twitter because they’re large and world-famous.
They could get rich off the treasure troves of information that they steal from them.
What could they possibly get out of hacking a small business?
That’s why small targets are so tempting to criminals
It makes some sense to think that small business owners don’t get attacked — there are rarely any reports in the news, after all.
This is not to be taken to mean that small businesses don’t get attacked, though. Such attacks are simply not sensational enough to appear in the news.
If you need to know about the rate at which small businesses are attacked, you need to turn to cyber security nonprofits like the National Cyber Security Alliance.
According to their statistics, 20% of American small businesses are attacked by cyber criminals.
Symantec, the antivirus company, has similar statistics — one in three of all cyber-attacks each year are aimed at small businesses with fewer than 250 employees.
When small businesses are attacked, they nearly never recover.
Nearly 2 out of 3 go out of business within months.
It stands to reason that small businesses would make attractive targets.
Since they believe that they are too small to be of interest to any criminal, they usually have poor practices.
Sometimes, when cyber criminals attempt to break into the computers of a small business, they aren’t directly interested in them.
They simply need to break in to be able to gain access to the large businesses that they have relationships with — banks, clients and so on.
Their computers are likely to have passwords for entry into the systems of those larger businesses. Small businesses, then are simply an easy entry point into the websites of major businesses.
Smartphones are a new threat to small businesses
Cyber criminals don’t necessarily restrict themselves to entering businesses through their data servers.
Once a criminal has access to the smartphone of a small business employee, he/she can use information stored on it to enter the main computers of the business.
Criminals are often also interested in the information stored on mobile phones.
Business mobile phones have client contact lists, call logs, voicemail and text messages — all full of important information that hackers could use to access important financial accounts.
It’s time for small businesses to take security seriously
When it comes to their mobile devices, small business owners need to learn how important security is.
It’s important to use every security measure available on mobile phones: To a businessman who often needs to make calls or consult his phone, a password wall can quickly get tiresome.
Since passwords are one of the few things that keep intruders out of phones, it’s important to not disable them.
If keying in a password seems bothersome, you simply need to use a phone that has smarter protection. Many phones offer pattern drawing and picture passwords on their lockscreens, for instance.
The iPhone 5S and newer models offer the easiest access method of all — fingerprint scanning. You should use whatever you need to make sure that you do have protection.
You should make sure that your password is strong enough: The longer your PIN number, the better. While it may be difficult to remember a 6-digit PIN number, it can protect you better.
Whatever you use, though, it shouldn’t be the same number that you use on your bank account.
Bring in a consultant to provide cyber security to your entire business
Whether it is bringing in better security software, encrypting your data or creating a security policy for your employees, it’s important to bring in a consultant to make sure that you cover all the bases correctly.
A consultant should be able to advise you on how to secure your business on the limited resources that it has access to.