Data security is probably not a topic that excites you, but if you are the owner of a small or medium-sized business, properly preparing for IT threats may save you thousands of dollars, your customers and even your business. In the view of hackers, you’re a prime target. An estimated 62 percent of cyber victims are small and mid-size business owners of which 60 percent go out of business after an attack.
Most of the IT-related threats to your business all trace back to data security – solutions that should be in place to thwart and alert to attacks or, if something bad happens, restore information in the event it is compromised or lost. But perhaps the greatest threat is to not take data security seriously and assume nothing bad can happen.
The following are some of the greatest threats to your business.
Named for “malicious software,” malware refers to a variety of hostile or intrusive software programs including viruses, spyware, Trojan horses and more. Motivations for hackers vary; some use it to steal information, others just want to be disruptive and mean. Regardless, a malware attack can result in an unknown software program residing in your system without you knowing it, quietly stealing every bit of personal information in your system, breaking down your IT network or wiping out data.
Just like it sounds, ransomware is a form of malware that works basically like a computer virus, except that instead of destroying your data, it locks it down until you pay the ransom the creators demand from you. Recently, the City of Atlanta was attacked by ransomware, shutting down their entire IT network. Ransomware attacks increased more than 90 percent from 2016 to 2017, according to a report by Malwarebytes, a cybersecurity company. SMBs are especially vulnerable to malware because hackers know your business cannot function if you can’t restore your files and thus feel pressured to pay the ransom. Experts say these ransoms should never be paid. If your files are encrypted and backed up properly, a system restoration is required.
Employee negligence is a prevalent cause of data breaches and loss. Typical mistakes include leaving computers unattended, carelessness with passwords, clicking on spam links in emails, opening infected attachments or installing malicious software on their systems.
Theft of intellectual property is usually due to malware, software vulnerabilities, network intrusion, information leaked on mobile devices and targeted attacks. External threats are not uncommon, but employees are often the culprits. Intellectual property is any type of information that will give a company a competitive advantage such as future plans for a product launch, patents and designs, your customer list, pricing and more.
Natural disaster or catastrophic event
It doesn’t take a massive weather event like Hurricane Harvey to wipe out your business. A fire or even a pipe break causing flooding is more than enough to destroy your computers or server. While it’s never a bad idea to use on-site backup systems, they can be destroyed in a catastrophic event, which is why you must also have an offsite backup and disaster recovery plan.
Now, some sound advice. You only need to recognize that IT security and data protection are as vital to your business as paying the electric bill. You may be large enough to afford an IT administrator, but it’s unrealistic and impractical to expect this person to be an expert in all things required to manage and protect your network and your data. Entrust an IT managed services provider to help you protect your business. It’s an insurance policy you can’t afford to do without.