Is your small business a hacker’s dream?

Keep a watchful eye on your company's critical information.

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As hacking grows increasingly more complex, hackers continue to adapt their strategies to fit changing trends. While you might think the size of your small business safeguards it against threats, it actually could be at an increased risk of data breaches because of its size.

The good news is there are plenty of tips and platforms you can use to stop hackers in their tracks.

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Why hackers target small businesses

Contrary to popular belief, some hackers target small businesses rather than trying to crack larger ones. Here are just a few reasons why:

  • Hackers know many small businesses lack resources. Large corporations and companies tend to have access to more resources that keep them better protected from cyberattacks and data breaches. Armed with fewer resources, small businesses can be an easy target for cybercriminals.
  • Small companies are doing more online business than ever. Without the overhead costs of running a physical store, online sales have become the bread and butter of the majority of small businesses. And many companies don’t use strong encryption when transmitting data through cloud-based platforms.
  • Small businesses can be a way inside larger companies. Remember the famous Target data breach of 2013? The company reported that upward of 40 million credit and debit card numbers were stolen over the holiday shopping season alone. But few people know that hackers accessed Target’s sensitive information through a third-party HVAC vendor.

What kinds of attacks are small businesses exposed to?

No business — big or small — is immune to cyberattacks. But knowing what types of attacks to look for and arm your small business against is the first line of defense against a data breach.

  • Ransomware. This is a specific type of malware that steals your business’s data or sensitive files. Hackers then threaten to publish these details or keep them on lockdown unless a specific ransom is paid. To safeguard your business against this threat, regularly back up all data and sensitive files. Software like CrashPlan for Small Business automatically backs up and stores your data on a cloud-based system. That way, if you’re ever a victim of ransomware, you won’t have to pay to get your data back.
  • Phishing scams. Phishing is a hacking technique that cybercriminals use to access sensitive information on your computer or device. Phishing scammers create fake websites and email addresses designed to mimic a real company or website to gain the victim’s trust. For example, a cybercriminal might pose as your bank and send you a link that prompts you to enter your Social Security number — personal data the scammer can easily access. Train all employees to detect and appropriately handle suspicious emails that could be part of a phishing scam.
  • Password attacks. Hackers can easily gain access to your small business’ critical information by cracking passwords and even implementing software that tracks your every keystroke. Use password managers and multifactor authentication to protect your business against weak or hacked passwords.
  • Man-in-the-middle attacks. Cybercriminals can secretly insert themselves between two people they believe are communicating, thereby potentially gaining access to sensitive information. This can occur during any transaction that happens through an unsecured Wi-Fi network. To protect against this type of attack, use a secured Wi-Fi network only, set up secure/multipurpose Internet mail extensions (S/MIME) to encrypt company emails and use certificate-based authentication so that only certified endpoints can access your network.

How to safeguard your business from hacking

Fortunately, you can protect your small business from internal and external threats in many ways.

    • Change passwords regularly. Most cybersecurity experts recommend you change your passwords every few months. While this can be a pain point for a business with lots of passwords, it’s well worth the added layer of security in the long run. Password managers can make the process a lot simpler.
    • Educate employees. Make sure all employees understand how to spot a phishing email. Employees should be trained to report suspicious emails and never click unknown links.
    • Encrypt all data. Data encryption is a crucial aspect of cybersecurity. If sensitive information falls into the wrong hands, you don’t want them to be able to read it.
    • Back up critical files. Important files and data should be regularly backed up so you can recover them in case anything goes wrong. Programs like CrashPlan for Small Business can automatically back up and recover critical files for you in the event of data loss, ransomware or even accidents like a spilled cup of coffee on your laptop.

Bottom line

In today’s digital world, protecting your personal information and that of your customers has never been more important. History shows that the vast majority of data breaches in recent years could have been prevented. The takeaways here are to never let your guard down, use trusted cybersecurity software and take alerts seriously if you get them.

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