According to a study conducted by VISA, 85% of data breaches occur at small businesses. This is no accident. The simple reasons are 1) there are a lot of small businesses and 2) small businesses are easier targets than large enterprises. Many small businesses are under a mistaken impression that they are safe because they are small. “Who would want to hack my small business?” they say. Security by obscurity, as it is called, is a myth.
The fact of the matter is hackers often do not target your small business. They simply attack what is available to them. Many hacker tools work by inputting a range of IP addresses. These are public IP addresses that is the Internet-facing portion of a business. Hackers often do not know who is behind those IP addresses and therefore do not know if they are attacking the Pentagon or Joe’s Crab Shack. The tools return vulnerabilities that can be exploited at each address. Which entity do you think has more vulnerabilities presenting themselves, the Pentagon or Joe’s Crab Shack? As a generalization, small business does not have the same level of resources to spend on data security that large organizations have. This leaves them as targets to hackers looking for low hanging fruit to attack. Another analogy is the car thief in downtown Manhattan. If he sees a car with the club in the steering wheel, he is going to move on to an easier target as there are seemingly endless targets.
So, what can you do as a small business to protect yourself without breaking the bank? Here are some low-cost but effective ways to improve security:
1) Create stronger passwords. According to a Mastercard study, current hacker programs can crack a 6-digit password in about ten seconds. Stronger passwords are one of the most important things businesses can do for protection. Use password managers like LastPass and KeePass to help you manage those stronger passwords.
2) Lock your computer when you are away. If you have any sensitive data or PII (Personal Identifiable Information) such as credit card information, health information, social security numbers or other human resource data, you have an obligation to protect that data. Make sure your computer screen is locked or locks automatically when you are away.
3) Use encryption. Microsoft has a tool called BitLocker built-in to Windows 10 Professional so the data on your computer will be less likely to be stolen. Laptop users specifically should do this as they are far more likely to be stolen than desktops.
4) Educate your staff. Employee Awareness programs may soon be required for businesses storing protected data. Many scams can be pulled off without any actual breach of a businesses’ defenses. Hackers simply use social engineering to trick employees into giving up information or money.
5) Take security seriously. Many small businesses do not take the threats seriously enough…until a breach occurs. Breaches are costly on many levels and can be a death blow to a struggling business. The threats are real.
Need help improving security without breaking the bank? Call us at 888-600-4560, email us, or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.