News reports of cyber-attacks tend to focus on corporate giants and high-profile brands. But a worrying trend is emerging among small businesses, which are now experiencing the kind of cyber security incidents once reserved for larger organisations.
If you're under the impression that your business is too small to be worth targeting by hackers, think again. With fewer technical resources and less time and budget than your larger rivals, your organisation may be seen as an easy mark.
Cyber criminals know that your weakest link is likely to be your people, who can be targeted with phishing emails and social engineering tactics. Hackers may look for a way to get into your company by obtaining legitimate credentials, so their activity is less likely to be spotted than more-conventional hacking techniques. Or they may exploit your company to gain back-door access to the larger companies you do business with, where bigger rewards are up for grabs.
Losing valuable data can have a devastating impact on a company's finances, customer base and ability to grow. A Cyber Streetwise and KPMG survey of 1,000 small businesses (PDF: Small Business Reputation & The Cyber Risk, 2015) revealed 60% of respondents had experienced a cyber breach. Of those, 31% reported brand damage in the aftermath, 30% said they had lost clients as a result, and 29% admitted it had impacted their ability to win new business. Cyber security is not a nice-to-have, nor a stable door to be bolted after hackers make off with your horse.
Four steps to prepare your business for cyber attacks
Admittedly, expensive cyber security solutions may be beyond your financial reach. Larger businesses tend to snap up the best security talent amid a skills shortage, and limited resources can constrain staff education programs. But the biggest problem facing small businesses is complacency about the likelihood of an attack in the first place, and the scale of the impact on their finances and reputation. So how do you prioritise cyber security when your day-to-day focus is on operations and business growth?