What do you think of when you hear the word “hacker”?
Most people’s mental image probably looks like a person in a black beanie and turtleneck, typing rapidly at a computer screen. We think of people compromising governments, people who worm their way into the CIA or FBI.
We can thank Hollywood for that image.
Surprisingly enough, this is actually far from the truth. In fact, in 2015 alone, over 40% of cyber security attacks happened to small businesses, not large government institutions.
The worst part? More often than not, these small businesses can’t recover from being hacked.
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While this is a sobering fact, it’s not completely hopeless. We’re going to tell you why most businesses don’t recover from cyber security attacks and what you can do to prevent attacks like these.
What exactly are cyber security attacks?
Despite the images of screens of green code and whizzing keyboards, cyber attacks on businesses are usually much simpler.
Most of the time, it’s due to an employee’s being tricked via an email message. The hacker sends an innocent-looking link, and the employee clicks on it or downloads a file. Once this happens, the virus or malware attached to the file can spread through the system.
This allows attackers to steal personal and financial information, compromise the identity of customers, and even shut entire systems down for ransom. Unfortunately for many businesses, they lack the resources and capital to recover from these attacks.
Reason 1: Being hacked is expensive
More often than not, the reason for closing company doors is money. How exactly does it cost these businesses money when they get hacked?
Sometimes, hackers send a malware that encrypts the entirety of the business’ system. Then, they demand a ransom for a “key” that unlocks the encryption. It’s a gamble as to whether or not the key works. When it doesn’t, these small businesses are out a lot of money.
Other times, hackers steal customer financial information, using it to send wire transfers or commit tax fraud. Not only does this cost the business money through refunds, but their customers lose trust in the business. All of these things slow sales to a trickle.
After so much damage is done, businesses can’t do much other than close down.
Reason 2: Recovery is even more expensive
The other expensive part of cyber security attacks is recovering all the systems. When the hackers are dealt with, servers, databases, and other computer systems often need to be rebuilt from the ground up. This helps make them more secure, but it’s also very expensive.
Sometimes, businesses choose to reallocate existing resources to their cyber security. This can be problematic as well, leaving other areas vulnerable to further cyber security attacks.
Reason 3: Sometimes there’s no recovery at all
Sometimes businesses simply can’t recover. While they try to figure out how to decrypt their systems or rebuild databases, their business is put on hold. They lose customers and eventually close up shop altogether.
Part of this is the weak, aged cyber security systems of small businesses. Some businesses don’t even have a working backup system. If they lose any data, it’s lost forever. If a hacker wipes a database clean, it’s like the whole business just disappeared into the air.
If cyber attacks are this prevalent and damaging, what can small businesses even do? Luckily, there are preventative tips that can protect businesses from cyber attacks.
1. Employee education
The number one way that businesses are attacked is through employees:
- Clicking on suspect links
- Downloading and running files
- Visiting unsafe websites
How do you stop this from happening? Educate your employees on the signs of viruses.
If your employees are savvy with the telltale signs of viruses, malware, and attack sites, they’re more likely to simply close them out or delete them. With employees on a vigilant watch, your business can be safer from the reach of hackers.
2. Disaster backup plan
In the event of a cyber security attack, it’s important to have a backup plan so your employees know what to do. That way, if a system is compromised, you can lock everything down to prevent further damage.
This plan can even be comprehensive enough to cover customer outreach and service as well. With a well-thought-out backup plan, cyber security attacks don’t have to spell the end of your business.
3. Invest in working data backups
You don’t want your business to be wiped clean by hackers. These days, there’s no excuse for your business to not have a backup system.
Backup systems usually require very little maintenance and often run automatically. Making sure this system is working is a crucial part of keeping your business protected from cyber attacks.
4. Keep your software updated
Along with backups, having up-to-date security software is very important. Many antivirus and security suites will warn employees about fishy-looking links and files, and some will outright prevent them from opening or initiating.
While employee education works, it’s also important to have systems in place for human errors. Security software is a great way to protect your systems for relatively little effort and money.
5. Look to the private sector
There are tons of private companies creating strong, effective cyber security measures for businesses of any size. If it’s the difference between keeping or losing a business, the money is worth the extra security these firms can provide. This also takes some of the load off of your own IT department.
SMB’s save on security with Managed Security Services
Trying to penny pinch when it comes to IT security and hoping your company isn’t the next victim isn’t a good enough precaution. Pegasus Technologies can help you find cost-effective IT security solutions for your SMB and work with you every step of the way.