As technology continues to advance, it brings many new and exciting applications that make our lives easier and our businesses more successful. However, when we rely more on technology, we open ourselves up to criminals who look for weaknesses that they can exploit. Because of the potential threats, every business needs to take cybersecurity seriously, especially small businesses.
Those who run small businesses may not be well versed on proper security procedures, and that lack of knowledge can lead to increased attacks. This is why every small business should make room in the budget for an IT security professional that can protect your systems and be on the watch for current threats. Let’s talk about those threats and how you can help your company thrive.
Small businesses are not immune
Those who watch the news have likely heard about the large-scale cyberattacks that have resulted in the theft of millions of customer records at major companies like Uber and Yahoo, but they are not alone. While hackers know that these big enterprises house the largest source of consumer data, small businesses are targeted more often. In fact, as of last year, more than half of all small businesses have been hacked, and the costs of these hacks are upwards of $200,000.
So why are hackers going after the small fish? The main reason is that hackers know that many small businesses are not taking cybersecurity as seriously as they should and because you are a smaller entity, they often find it so easy to breach that it is worth the effort required. Small businesses may feel that they don’t have information that is beneficial to cyber thieves, but any piece of customer data can be valuable. Anything from an email address to a social security number can be used to send a phishing email or take out a fraudulent loan.
This is why it is essential to have an IT security professional on your staff. Right now, there is a shortage of cybersecurity professionals because many companies struggle to find qualified IT professional. And those who are qualified have been snapped up by organizations offering better compensation.
Evading hackers becomes a lost cause for smaller organizations. The chance of a hack is a self-fulfilling prophecy. But it doesn’t have to be. If you don’t want to pay that hefty price tag or deal with a loss of customers after a hack, then you should take the time to find a qualified professional who can help you out. If there is someone in your office who is interested in the position or shows a particular knack for security, set up a training program or give them the funds to return to school. The result will be well worth it.
How IT Security professionals can help
IT security professional can help you set up your systems to ensure the best protection against cyber threats. Consider hiring a cyber-security architect who has the responsibility of setting up the secure framework of your business. Once they have a system that works, they will be responsible for maintaining the systems. This way you know that your security fortress was set up by the very best.
You can test the work of the security architect by bringing on a penetration tester. This is an expert that actively looks to find faults in your security framework by acting like a hacker would while trying simulated attacks. Testers have expertise in many industries, so it can be well worth
it to bring one into your organization.
You can also bring in professionals to ensure overall security for your business. This includes installing antivirus software on every computer system and ensuring that there is a firewall in place to restrict incoming data and prevent malware from making its way into the system. There should also be locks in place that limit internet usage to only websites authorized by the company so the employee cannot stumble into a dangerous source.
While hackers are part of the problem, a staff that is uneducated on cybersecurity concerns can be just as dangerous. Many small businesses do not have the resources to train staff on how to avoid common threats, but doing so could make all the difference. An IT professional can create training documents that will provide this necessary instruction. Yet another reason why you need to hire one now.
One of the most common threats that affects businesses of all sizes is the phishing scam. These are communications sent by cyber-criminals that appear to be legitimate emails at first glance but contain a link or attachment that, when clicked or opened, unleashes malware onto the computer system. The hackers will often try to trick victims into opening the message using a subject line that looks to be from an authority site like the bank or a manager.
If you have a smaller enterprise, then you may have employees who work outside of the office, but when working in public places, you have to beware of man-in-the-middle attacks. Essentially, these are fake Wi-Fi accounts set up by hackers in restaurants and coffee shops meant to look like the establishment’s official account, but when you sign-in, you connect directly to the hacker’s system, and that is how they can steal your information. To avoid falling victim, always ask an employee for the correct account.
When you have an IT security expert on your staff, they can educate you on this and many other threats and offer suitable solutions. Consider finding a qualified professional now, and you could avoid cyber crime in the future.
About the author: Luke Smith
Luke Smith is a writer and researcher turned blogger focusing on IT topics. Reach out to him on Twiter.