Would you leave the front door of your business wide open every night? Of course you wouldn’t. When nobody’s at the office, you’ve got to protect your assets, usually behind locked doors, a complex security system and often even a network of CCTV cameras. There are procedures in place in case a thief ever wriggles their way into your facilities. And you’ve got insurance if the worst ever happens.
But what about your digital assets? According to a report from Kroll, digital theft of small businesses overtook physical theft in 2017, for the first time ever. As surprising as it may seem, today your business is more likely to be penetrated by hackers than for a disgruntled ex-employee to boost a few PCs in the dead of night.
Despite this, data shows that the vast majority of small businesses are seriously underprepared for cyber-attacks. The 2018 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report states that a full 58% of malware strikes were on small businesses over the last 12 months, a number that continues to climb. The average cost of these attacks has climbed in turn, now exceeding $1 million between efforts to recover data and restore daily business operations. Yet, according to a 2016 survey by the National Center for the Middle Market, less than half of midsize US businesses have an up-to-date strategy to address cyber security concerns and almost a third have no plan at all.
In effect, business owners are leaving their digital front doors unlocked, complete with a neon sign saying “Rob me!” flickering above. While it’s easy to assume you’re safe from the kinds of large-scale digital breaches you read about in the news every week, that false sense of security will eventually come back to haunt you. With more than half of small businesses targeted for digital attacks every year, it’s practically inevitable that you’ll end up in the crosshairs of cybercriminals. Without the proper security measures in place, that $1 million bill is going to hit your desk one day, and it may even shutter your business for good.
Luckily, with even a modicum of proper, proactive stewardship of your digital assets, you can turn that open door into a bank vault in no time. First, start with your employees. A full 51% of data breaches occur due to the negligence of hapless team members, according to CompTIA. Establish comprehensive security policies, lay them down in crystal-clear print and have your employees sign off on them. Build a thorough education program to school your employees on the risks and signs of digital crime. Topics should range from “How to spot a phishing e-mail” to the proper construction of company passwords.
While your employees are learning the ins and outs of basic cyber security, invest in multilayered protections for your network. This must go beyond a simple, free antivirus, and should include platforms to keep all your patches up-to-date, security measures seamlessly integrated with company e-mail and, preferably, the watchful eye of a managed services provider. If you’re not a professional, it’s easy to miss security holes that would be glaring to criminals, even if you do your research. Better to get the experts involved and keep them patching those holes as they arise rather than risk missing something that flips your company belly-up down the road.
Thousands upon thousands of other small-business owners are leaving their digital door wide open day in, day out. As a result, cybercriminals have begun to consider companies like yours to be easy pickings, vulnerable fruit ripe for harvest. Don’t be one of the millions of businesses that succumb to cyber-attacks every year. Invest in adequate protection and give yourself the peace of mind you need to focus on what you do best: making money.