Your Small Business and Data Security

When looking at data security, many people think they have plenty of systems and precautions in position to keep their information safe. Sure, you may have antivirus software and you may even update it regularly. You may also believe that you’re too small of a company to be a target of a hacking attempt. Only big firms that have thousands of clients need to worry about cyber criminals, right? Wrong. Hackers and cyber criminals have actually escalated their focus on small businesses. We would like to help you understand the dangers your small business could be facing.

Small firms: low-hanging fruit

The truth is, hackers have realized that small businesses are easier targets, and are increasingly preying upon them. They are able to infiltrate their systems at a considerably faster rate, and with a better percentage of success as well. This means a cyber criminal can assault multiple targets in the time it would take them to lay siege to a better-guarded system with a higher level of data security. How can it be worth their while to steal from a mom and pop business? In the present modern world, practically every business makes use of digital payment processing methods. When your customers pay using a credit card, this data must run through your system to be verified. This represents a goldmine of information for hackers, as they can lift this data without being noticed. With your customers’ credit card numbers, addresses and names, they are able to make counterfeit charges on their accounts.

How hackers gain access to your data

How can they get this delicate data? Though you might be protected by software meant to firewall your systems, hackers still have numerous points of entry. Email attachments are a significant offender, and openingonly one piece of malware can leave you exposed. Believe it or not, in the first quarter of this year alone, industry experts have detected over six million distinctive malware programs. Attackers don’t need to be sophisticated to be dangerous: when trying to breach your data security, some hackers have a low-tech technique instead. They could contact your employees directly, and pretending to be a network administrator, request their password to improve security. This is called “phishing.” While you may believe your employees know better than to be seduced by such an evident tact, it takes merely one lapse in judgment to leave your systems open to attack.

The buck stops with you

Many people assume that since credit card companies are usually accountable for any fraudulent charges that occur from a hacking event, that data security isn’t crucial. While this may be true for a consumer, for a business owner the result may be very different. Consumers will hold you responsible personally should their information be stolen. Damage control after an attack can cost an organization thousands of dollars and in some cases a single attack can spell the end of business in general.

An ounce of prevention…

Data security is extremely important and any additional precautions you can take would be wise. Use strong passwords and update your existing security systems regularly. Educate your employees on safety measures they can take, such as creating strong passwords and never giving out login information. Hiring an outside consultant to help you ensure you and your client’s information is safe is another good idea. Simple measures can give you peace of mind that your systems are safe, and your clients will know you have their best interests at heart.