Companies are doing more business through online means than ever before and with reports coming out about large corporations, banks, and even the IRS getting attacked by cyber hackers you may think there is little concern that your small business would ever become a target. Unfortunately that is untrue. In fact you might be an even bigger target. Small businesses are being attacked more in recent years and there are a number reasons why.
If you have an online store, accept credit cards, have ordered product from a supplier though their online store, or have accessed your business account through your smart phone, tablet, laptop, or home computer, your information could be obtained by an unwanted party. Many online transactions and connections are now utilizing cloud services that may not have strong security in place. This becomes a problem because smaller businesses must use their own resources to protect their sensitive information. Resources that many don’t usually have. Rarely does a small business have dedicated IT professionals to implement and keep up with the latest security measures, and often the business owners don’t know enough to protect themselves from every situation that could arise. Plus, with leaving the responsibilities of online security on the shoulders of business owners, they then need to be diligent enough to keep up with all of the changes in security and that can be a daunting task. On top of all that, many who run their own companies simply haven’t thought about the issue. This can leave a small business more vulnerable to cyber theft than the larger companies and is what attracts online criminals. These hackers are aware that small businesses usually know very little about how to prevent online theft or how vulnerable they really are.
The information hackers will commonly go after are your bank account information, your supplier’s information, and any company accounts you may sell a product to. The reason is that if a small business does become a victim, it has very limited resources to find and go after the criminal, not to mention the time it would take to find the hacker. In addition, unlike personal bank accounts or credit cards, a business account does not carry the same protection if money or personal information is stolen from them. If funds are stolen from your business account the only recourse you usually have is to beg the bank to reimburse lost funds or to sue. However, with taking legal action against a giant banking corporation, the fees involved are usually much more than the business can afford, especially if funds were already stolen from the account.
Another issue to worry about is that, if your business’s account is hacked into, many states require that you report the hacking to your customers and anyone else who may have had their information stolen. This is a big dilemma since many customers may then decide to stop buying from your store. On top of that, you may be fined for any fraud that took place because of a data breach in your system. Then you must work to shore up security which may require additional funds just to be safe again. Being hacked can become an ever-expanding cost on your business and might even force you out of business.
The best way to protect your business from online attacks is to contact computer security consultants to discuss how vulnerable you may be and how to prevent an outside intruder gaining access to your system. You should also make sure you have insurance to cover any losses or fines that may occur through an online attack, and don’t forget to have adequate antivirus and anti-malware software installed on all devices that may regularly connect to your systems. Also, discuss with any employees the possible ways a hacker can get into your computer systems, it can be through email, any outside device that can log onto your network like a mobile phone, tablet, or laptop, or from an employee accessing the business accounts from their home.
If you’d like to read further into the dangers of cyber crime on your business, an article from Yahoo Small Business Advisor discusses the ways hackers can get your information, PC World explains how easy it is to hack into your system, and QuickBooks gives in-depth ways to protect yourself from attack.