Small Businesses BEWARE! You are the Number One Target for Cyber Theft

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Every day we read about a new cyber or ransomware attack that costs businesses millions, maybe even billions of dollars. As a small business, you could not even afford to pay thousands, let alone millions in the event of a cyber-attack that holds your data ransom and shuts down operations for hours at a time. And because of these salacious headlines, small businesses learn to ignore the warnings around cyber theft thinking, “Hackers are not interested in our business. We are too small.” This thinking could not be further from the truth.

In fact, small businesses are the number one target for data theft and ransomware.


Simply put, you are small, and unlike bigger businesses that have lots of money invested into managed firewalls, professionally monitored intrusion protection and disaster recovery/business continuity planning all housed and run by expensive certified security professionals in state of the art data centers, you are simply an easier target for cyber theft.

The truth is that hackers don’t discriminate when it comes to their targets. They simply go after unsuspecting targets such as the trusting employee who responds to a bank email alert asking them to click a link from someone they think they know, or the boss with a new computer, working from home without anti-virus software installed who accesses his company data from an unsecured machine.

What should a small business owner know and what can a small business do to protect themselves?

010Innovation sifted through countless reports for factual data and having worked with hundreds of Minnesota based small businesses, we would like to arm small businesses with the threats and information we feel are most relevant to you.


securityYour Employees

Yep, that’s right. Employees are hands down, the number one biggest cause of data theft, accounting for 54% of all data breaches. Employees will expose the entire company’s data to the public WIFI at the local coffee shop, click a bogus link and unknowingly send money to fake accounts. Training employees on how to identify threats and avoid suspicious attempts to steal your data is your number one defense against cyber theft.

securityYour Email

91 percent of attacks by sophisticated cybercriminals start through email, and the average employee will spend up to 6 hours a day on email. Getting employees to click on fake links and download infected viruses is the most common phishing scam. Email protection software that removes email before it is opened and scans for uncommon links and patterns is a valuable resource that could save small business lots of time and money down the line.

securityYour Internet

This is a target that seems so obvious but is often most overlooked. Your computer with internet access is attacked every 39 seconds. A recent study by Internet Security Threat Report stated that 1 in 13 web requests lead to malware. (aka Infected viruses being introduced to your network.) While antivirus and antimalware software and firewalls are a must, they cannot be the only line of defense. As threats continue to evolve and become more sophisticated, small businesses need a partner who is familiar with these threats and can help isolate and prevent them from ever reaching the network.

securityYour Passwords

The news is not good. 81% of hacking-related breaches leveraged either stolen and/or weak passwords. A University of Maryland study found that “brute force” hackers, who use simple software-aided techniques to randomly attack large quantities of computers, look for usernames and passwords that are tried most often. They will install software scripts that run through lists of common usernames and passwords attempting to break into a computer. Once they do, the rest is history.

security 3rd Party Contractors

Like employees, third party contractors, consultants, and guests with access to the network account for more than 43% of all data breaches compared to external data hacking which only makes up 33% of all data breaches. Truth be told, the human element is unpredictable and when you throw 3rd party individuals into the mix, you open your network to even greater threat.

securityYour Wallet

While the numbers tend to vary from report to report, cyber attacks cost the small business between $84,000 to $148.000. That’s nearly one or two employees’ annual wages and in a small business where every resource matters to the bottom line! Digging deeper, on average data breaches cost companies $141 per lost or stolen record. Even small businesses with a few hundred customers feel the impact of theft of this kind. The good news is that the top factors for reducing the cost of a breach are implementing a formal incident response plan, encryption software and internal education for employees.

securityYour Time

Time is money and containing data breaches comes at an expense. One in five businesses faced downtime of 25 hours or more following ransomware attacks in 2017.  Any downtime for a small business is costly and the average small business who faced an attack reported having to shut down their systems for longer than 100 hours. Time is valuable and it’s hard to put any dollar amount on being up, operational and available to your clients.

securitySmall Business

If you are a small business and you are thinking it won’t be you, think again. Sixty-one percent of SMBs have experienced a cyber attack in the past 12 months and 54% of those breaches involved customer & employee data.

securityBusiness World Wide

Last but not least, cyber-attacks are impacting businesses worldwide. Six trillion will be the global cost of cybercrime by 2022. The number seems too large to wrap our heads around, but we can tell you that the projected rise of organized crime and state-sponsored hacking will make cybercrime more profitable than the global drugs trade, involving the greatest transfer of economic wealth in history.

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