Think only Fortune 500 companies are at risk for data breaches? Think again. These days, small businesses of all kinds are being victimized by cyber attackers. According to a recent report by Keeper Security and the Ponemon Institute, half of small businesses in the U.S. have experienced security breaches in the past year.
While many business owners may feel that only the Home Depots and Targets of the world are susceptible to data breaches, the opposite is actually true. Smaller businesses are a target for many criminals because they often do not have the robust data security measures in place that larger blue chip companies do.
Types of threats
The objective of most cyber criminals is to steal and misuse sensitive information such as credit card numbers, bank account numbers, and Social Security numbers. When multiplied by hundreds or even thousands of users, this stolen data can lead to massive financial damage — not to mention loss of customer faith.
As hackers get savvier and try to navigate their way around security features, cyber threats continue to evolve. Here are a few of the latest and most persistent dangers:
- Malware: This umbrella term refers to malicious software that infiltrates your office computers, such as worms, spyware, and adware. Malware can quickly wipe out a hard drive, alter files, and send out emails without your knowledge, and steal confidential information.
- Ransomware: This is a dangerous type of malware that infiltrates computers and essentially locks out users. In return for access, the ransomware will demand money or even threaten to make private information public. Ransomware is one of the fastest growing types of data breaches today.
- Phishing: A common tool used by cyberattackers, phishing involves fake websites and emails created under the guise of being from a credible individual or organization. Phishing scams attempt to trick people into providing bank account and credit card numbers by proposing legitimate-sounding reasons for doing so.
- Denial of service attacks (DDos): During a DDoS attack, a company’s server is deliberately bombarded with requests. The objective is to shut down the target company’s website or entire network and cripple the business.
Even employees can pose a threat. There have been many instances of grudge-holding former employees using their credentials and password privileges to access private company information and files.
So where do you begin to bolster your data security? There is no “one size fits all” solution. The best approach is to have an experienced firm perform an evaluation of your company’s IT infrastructure. This will allow you to identify your specific risks as well as gaps in your current security plan.