These days, it seems like U.S. corporations are engaged in a cybersecurity arms race. Corporate boards across the country have quickly realized that their days are numbered if they cannot secure customers’ sensitive data and their cash. The Pentagon, financial services firms, and retail corporations are all jumping on the bandwagon and bolstering their cybersecurity defenses. So, if you are a small or medium sized business, you have to say: what about me? If big corporations beef up security and no longer present a juicy target for cyber thieves, will they target my business? The answer is a resounding yes, and it is already happening.
In fact one in five small businesses falls victim to cyber-crime every year. And even worse, of those businesses that are breached, about 60 percent go out of business within six months of the attack.
This is not some statistical aberration; hackers target small businesses for very good reasons. As society has rapidly transitioned from a cash-based economy to one that is mainly cashless, small and mid-sized businesses have struggled more than their mammoth counterparts to adapt to cyberspace—due to their limited resources. As a result, smaller businesses rarely have the proper security in place to prevent, or even recognize, a serious cyber-attack.
Nevertheless, they must use electronic devices and the internet for their business, and this creates incredible risk. According to a 2013 Internal Threat Report from data security provider Symantec, 31 percent of targeted cyber-attacks in 2012 were leveled against businesses with fewer than 250 employees.
Despite these numbers, many small business owners hold fast to their belief that hackers will not waste their time targeting small organizations when there are much larger prizes for the taking. Yet, hackers can steal incredible sums of cash from small businesses and vanish in the blink of an eye. Without the proper SMB security in place, hackers can finish their task before the business owner even recognizes what has happened.
Likewise, cyber criminals can access smaller firms’ data to hack into a larger corporation later, as many smaller companies do business with larger firms and have passwords and other electronic access to their systems. Or, hackers can compromise a small business’ site and infect it with malware. Then, when larger corporate clients or vendors of a large company visit the infected site, the malware secretly attacks that person’s computer and infects the organization. This is known as the watering-hole attack.
With all of these threats out there, it’s time for small business to take a page out of its larger counterpart’s book. The numbers don’t lie; operating without the proper cybersecurity solutions in place will lead to a cyber-attack. Moreover, the largest firms have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in new technology, personnel, and solutions to combat cyber threats. Certainly, then, you can invest in a reasonable solution that will secure your business’ assets and reputation from attack.