Cybersecurity Tips For Small Businesses – Part 1 of 3

Large businesses. Medium businesses. Small businesses. Business is business.

Every company, large or small needs to be aware of the threat of cyber attacks and the steps to take in the event that it becomes the target of one.

Heather Engel, EVP of Sera-Brynn, recently hosted a roundtable discussion with local business professionals at the Virginia Peninsula Chamber of Commerce to discuss the basics of how to mitigate cyber risk by identifying vulnerabilities, testing them against a wide array of threats, and assessing compliance against suggested and mandatory compliance standards.

“Hacking is the modern day mafia,” said Engel. “Trainings like these are important because they teach businesses how to approach cyber security from a risk management perspective which is really important because it helps you prioritize and decide how to spend your money and what needs to be protected. Businesses need to understand the information they have, the information that is potentially valuable to an attacker and protect is accordingly.”

One of the biggest misconceptions today, she added, is that small businesses think they are not targets because they are small and not a large healthcare system or a retail merchant with multiple locations.

What business owners – all business owners – need to understand is that many attacks are not targeted attacks. Most cyber attacks are a matter of opportunity.

Not taking the right steps to secure systems and networks can increase your risk. It’s like leaving the window open in your house when all of your neighbors have already locked up.

Here are some things you should know.

Hackers are not working in their parent’s basement.

The Internet economy has changed the way we do business within the last ten years. Hacking is the modern day mafia and has become big business in countries like Russia and China. Hackers are punching the clock, so to speak, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Because some of these countries suffer from challenging economies, they tend to have a large population of young workers (25-40 years old) and very high unemployment rates – making them ripe for recruiting as hackers.

If larger businesses (Target, Anthem, Neiman Marcus) can’t protect themselves, how can I?

A cyber space user – any business that has email, social media, does business on the Internet and more – has to be right 100% of the time. A hacker only has to be right once and if you leave your windows open, so to speak, you give the hackers ways to get inside. And they are trying to get in ALL THE TIME. Want to see what we’re talking about? Visit this live action site and see live cyber attacks are happening in real time.

I’m a small business, I don’t have unlimited resources to spend on cybersecurity so where should I spend my money?

Companies often spend money in the wrong areas when it comes to cybersecurity. A 2013 study showed that businesses spend 2% of their revenue on physical security (guards, alarm services, etc.) and less than half a percent on cyber security. But global losses to physical theft are around $112 billion. Global losses to cyber attacks? Over $300 billion, or more than double than physical theft.

This is the first in a three part series of FAQs and cybersecurity tips for small businesses. Read Part 2 and 3 here:

Part 2

Part 3