Small businesses are easy targets for hackers and cyber criminals for a very obvious reason. They often have valuable data with very few safeguards. If you are a small business owner, here is what you need to know about cybersecurity and why investing in it is one of the most important investments you can make for the future of your business.
Small Businesses Often Do Not Understand Vulnerabilities
Small businesses operate with smaller staffs and may not have a large information technology department that specializes in cybersecurity. There are common vulnerabilities that make businesses prime targets for cyber criminals. A business cannot begin to address these issues until they are recognized. Identification is the first step to remedying them.
Whether the small business employs the talent itself, or contracts with a managed IT services company to perform a vulnerabilities assessment, it is imperative that vulnerabilities are brought to light so they can be addressed.
Common Software or Applications Pose Threats
Cyber criminals often look for low-hanging fruit. Some industries use the same applications or software making them vulnerable to cybercrime. For instance, over the past few years several technology companies have merged. It is conceivable that a large percentage of businesses within certain industries, like healthcare, may employ the same software. When this happens, businesses in those industries become targets as cyber criminals dedicate resources to exploiting those common vulnerabilities. Now, instead of attacking one vulnerable business, they have access to hundreds or thousands.
The Target and Home-Depot hacks both originated from the same point-of-sale terminal vulnerability. In Target’s case, it appears they ignored the data security warnings. If large businesses are vulnerable, imagine what this means for small business.
Threats Can Lie Dormant
The other discouraging thing about cyber threats is that they can lie dormant for months within a system. A business could be infected at the end of the summer season, and data security issues may not go into effect until the busy holiday retail season. Businesses often do not recognize that what they do not know and cannot see can kill their business reputation.
A vulnerability assessment is one of the few ways to recognize what is plaguing the system, dormant or not. The assessment can also perform:
- asset discovery
- configuration auditing
- target profiling
- malware detection
- sensitive data discoveries
Connections in Business Are Not Always a Good Thing
Business people think of connections as a boost to business. From a cybersecurity standpoint, they are not. If a system is infected with malware or other issues, it poses a threat to everything it is connected to. Think of the people who access a business network and where they do it from. There are traveling salespeople, employees who work from home, third-party vendors, visitors, and a number of others who access the network. If a business backs up to the cloud but accesses that cloud from the company network, then there is the potential for infection.
The word “infection” is chosen carefully because malware is spread by points of contact but in this case, the contact is virtual. Examine how the business is connected to others for a full understanding of the risks involved.
Network security is just part of the cost of doing business these days. Learning about vulnerabilities and exercising caution are the minimum of what should be done. Learn more by downloading our e-book, Small Business Network Security Risks.