[Editor’s note: Thank you to technology consultant Rick Delgado for contributing this guest post!]
Cyber-security crises have been making headlines for a while now. Most if not all of the virtual-heists we hear of have had to do with large corporation whose millions of customers have been affected by the security breach. When Target’s system was compromised in 2013, the financial information of over 40 million customers was exposed, costing Target over $100 million dollars. Not even one year later, hackers breached Home Depot’s system, accessing the credit cards of over 56 million customers and costing the corporation $33 million. It is only natural to assume that large corporations are the prey of choice to hackers. However, some recent studies have suggested that hacker radars are not occupied exclusively by major companies. On the contrary, small businesses are just as likely, if not more like to be the victim of a cyber security attack. What does this mean for small business owners? At this point, your security precautions should probably extend beyond just a camera system for your business.
If you’re a small business owner, right now you may be asking yourself, “Why should I be concerned?”
Well, for starts, cyber security attacks are happening at unprecedented rates. While this is to be expected as computers gradually find their way into nearly every facet of life, the frequency of cyber attacks may surprise you. According to a study by cyber security company Trend Micro, approximately 3.5 cyber attacks occur every second. Take a moment to digest that. Think about how many seconds it took you to read that. If if took you 4 seconds, 14 cyber attacks took place within that time span. As mass-digitization continues, causing more and more valuable information to be stored digitally, expect the efforts of hackers keep pace with the expanding existence of digital incentives. What does this mean? Every company, large and small, will need to constantly evaluate and improve their cybersecurity efforts in order to stay safe.
For a variety of reasons, many small businesses have failed to adequately protect themselves from online security breaches. Since most small businesses are spread pretty thin in terms of time and money, these are probably commonly cited as rationale behind a lack of preparedness. Many small companies do not think they are big enough to merit the attention of hacker plotting cyber attacks. This is consistent with a recent KPMG study which indicated that 85% of small business representatives felt that they were less likely to be the target of a cyber security attack than a large corporation.
Unfortunately, startups and small companies are not as safe as they think. According to the Verizon data Breach Investigations Report, small and medium-sized businesses are the subject of 60% of all cyber attacks. Another report from the National Cyber Security Alliance indicated that 20% of small companies will be victims of cyber attacks. Of those attacked, 60% will go out of business. Small business may think they are safe in the shadows of major corporations, but the numbers don’t lie. Not only that, there are plenty of reasons hackers would go after small companies.
First of all, there are a lot of small businesses — more than there are small businesses. In other words, there are a lot of targets for hackers. Secondly, just like large businesses, small businesses have valuable information that hackers want, such as banking and credit card data and identity information. This, paired with the fact that many small companies do not take cyber security as seriously as they should makes small businesses prime targets for cyber attacks.
If you are a small business owner, it’s time to deem tight cyber security a necessity rather than a luxury. In this age of technology, no one is untouchable – big and small companies alike.
Rick Delgado is a business technology consultant for several Fortune 500 companies. He is also a frequent contributor to news outlets such as Wired, Tech Page One, and Cloud Tweaks. Rick enjoys writing about the intersection of business and new innovative technologies.