You might think that cyber attacks only happen to multimillion-dollar organizations and high profile companies, but a report published on Small Biz Trends says otherwise. In fact, 43% of all cyber attacks target small businesses, with 60% of these victims closing shop within just six months of the breach. Though these cases may not seem as drastic as the scandals that shook Facebook or Yahoo and compromised millions of private user data, what this tells us is that hackers show no mercy to anyone.
A universal threat
Maryville University notes the irreplaceable role cyber security measures play in today’s increasingly connected world. The opportunities opened up by technology present many risks — from chilling ransomware and distributed denial-of-service attacks, to more low profile phishing emails and the all too common employee negligence. As a result, the threats to our data and information, coursing through office devices, security cameras, and cellphones, are everywhere. And while it’s easier for large corporations to bounce back from security blunders thanks to lawyers and PR teams at their disposal, the same can’t always be said for small businesses.
What might come as a shock is that not all attacks are as elaborate as you’d think. According to a study conducted by the Ponemon Institute, many breaches are actually caused by negligent employees, third parties, and contractors. More often than not, humans are the weakest link in the security chain: sometimes, all it takes is a wrong click or carelessly plugging in an infected phone to an internal network.
Understandably, startups usually dedicate their finances to capital and business growth, which we have discussed here on The City Mix. However, investment in cybersecurity needs to be just as high up in a business’ priorities — otherwise, you’ll end up becoming easy targets for attacks.
Education is the start
The first step to a good cyber security plan is better awareness across your ranks. An article on Founder’s Guide outlines some of the many types of cyber attacks that all workers should be aware of. Data breaches are particularly prevalent for startups that rely on online databases, like those in e-commerce or customer support. This happens when cyber attackers take advantage of sensitive information (usually personal data or financial details) to sell or use for other crimes such as fraud.
Another top threat that plagues plenty of companies is ransomware. Just like its name implies, ransomware encrypts data on the compromised gadget and revokes the user’s access. Until the company pays up, there’s no telling what hackers will do with the files. And even once you’ve settled the payment, there’s no complete guarantee that your data will go back to normal.
A worthy investment
At this point, it’s simply irresponsible to just wait around before an attack hits. Companies and organizations of all sizes should arm themselves for the worst, especially in today’s digital age, when security incidents are immortalized online and a company’s reputation can be sabotaged with a single hashtag.
Ultimately, what startups should work on is a cyber resilience strategy that will hone their ability to withstand and respond accordingly to cyber attacks. This also ensures that they have enough walls up to guard against any attacks, and maintain business as usual. Additionally, startups can consider Security-as-a-Service, for those who can’t afford to make exorbitant investments on security applications upfront. Instead, there are scalable security services like firewalls and mitigation services that will help reinforce your defenses. All in all, cyber threats are a reality for everyone, and must be taken seriously now more than ever.
Exclusively written for thecitymix.com
by J.P. Band
The City Mix is a business coaching and technology software development company with offices in North Aurora, IL and future expansion into Chicago.