Small Businesses Are Disproportionately Affected By Data Breach and Cybercrime: What You Can Do About It
It’s a wonder that small business owners often overlook cybercrime when considering threats to their business. Today, cybercrime is more prevalent than ever, with headlines showing instances of data breaches and business hacks year round.
Yet, contrary to popular belief, a majority of cybercrime and data breach victims are, in fact, small business. According to a Verizon Report, small businesses represented 61 percent of all data breaches in 2016, up from the previous year’s 53 percent. To make matters worse, each cybercrime on average costs a small business between $84,000 and $148,000. With these losses, it’s no surprise that 60 percent of small businesses go out of business within six months of a cyberattack.
You might wonder why small businesses are the primary targets of hackers and cybercriminals. As stated in a previous article on Dyer News, “While this statistic may be shocking, it is more understandable when you consider that smaller businesses have fewer IT resources than larger corporations would, making them more susceptible to attack.”
Thus, it is vital that small business owners take cybersecurity seriously so as to prevent their businesses from being victims of cybercrime. “It’s important to protect yourself by taking personal responsibility for your data; we can’t expect banks or other institutions to do it for us,” said Jim Karagiannes, Ph.D., professor in DeVry University’s College of Engineering & Information Sciences. “We lock our doors and take other security measures to protect our home and car. We need to also take precautions with our personal security and information.”
5 Steps You Can Take to Protect Your Business From Cybercrime
So what can you do to protect your small business from cybercrime? Let’s take a look at some simple steps you can take to safeguard the integrity of your business:
Install an Antivirus
Even though firewalls are the first line of defense against security attacks, antivirus programs play an extremely important role in protecting your devices. Antivirus programs are easily available, and often free. A basic plan will provide you with a base level of protection, but if your budget allows it, consider investing in a premium plan. Premium plans provide more advanced protection in terms of security threats like malware and spyware, and sometimes even include email virus scanning and protection. In the long run, opting for a premium protection plan can actually save you a lot of money.
Do Frequent Backups
Regular backups are integral to ensuring the longevity of your files and documents. Cyberattacks often wipe out all your saved information, so if you haven’t done a backup recently, you could be at risk of losing all your data. Frequently backing up data allows you to easily reclaim your data, with only minor losses in the case you are the victim of a cyberattack. As a business owner, make sure that you schedule backups often and encourage employees to do the same, especially if they are using their own devices for work.
Encryption is one of the most important tools to have when it comes to protecting your data from hackers. Even a basic knowledge of encryption can go a long way in combatting data theft. Encrypting your files ensures that anyone who tries to hack into them can’t get very far unless they have a decryption key.
There are different types of encryption you can use to safeguard your information in specific settings. As a small business leader, a knowledge of at least basic encryption is an absolute must.
Basic encryption knowledge includes knowing how to password-protect files, as well as encrypt emails using your existing applications, e.g. those found in Outlook and Gmail. Thankfully, there is a multitude of resources online that can teach you this skill, as well as guide you on how to maximize the effects of encrypting your data.
Secure Mobile Devices
Mobile devices today can store huge amounts of data. They also happen to be very easy targets for hackers, as most people overlook securing their personal devices against cybercrime. Additionally, due to their size, mobile devices can easily be stolen or get lost. With this in mind, securing mobile devices, especially if employees are allowed to bring their own devices to work, is crucial to maintaining the safety of your business.
Admittedly, it is a little more difficult to secure employees’ personal devices, but you should have some BYOD policies in place that ensure employees are careful when using their devices for work. For instance, you could insist that employees only store work-related information on their devices for the duration of a particular work-related task. Once this task is completed, all pertinent information must be effectively erased from the device.
Secondly, you should encourage employees to store all work-related data on a company cloud server. Where possible, employees should use the cloud to complete tasks, rather than downloading work-related information onto their devices for offline use. As an additional safeguard, you will also want to make sure remote wiping and device location features are activated on all devices used to complete company work. If you are dealing with data and information that is extra sensitive, consider protecting access to it with two-way authentication features as well as advanced encryption.
Many new small business owners see business insurance as an unnecessary expense. On the contrary, small business insurance is a strategic investment that could protect your business through various issues like liability claims, property damage, and loss of income. Today, small business insurance also covers damages from cybercrimes. Experts at The Hartford state that “without business insurance, a small firm and its owners could potentially be on the hook for hundreds of thousands, possibly millions, of dollars in damage and liability claims. Few small businesses can recover from such costs. The right small business coverage can help pay the costs of these damages and claims.”
Some insurance policies even come with additional benefits, including cybersecurity consultations and risk assessments. In the event of a data breach, small business insurance could save your company thousands, and give you peace of mind knowing you won’t go under.
Based on past statistics, cybercrime is only set to increase in the coming year. In fact, an article on the Barkly blog states that in 2017, “cyber attacks cost small and medium-sized businesses an average of $2,235,000.” By 2021, cybercrime is slated to cost the world $6 trillion annually. Don’t let your small business be driven underground by cyberattacks. Invest in cybersecurity, and use these tips to ensure that your business remains properly protected.