Don’t bury your head in the sand when it comes to cyber-attacks

I am just a small business in a small town, I don’t have anything of value to hackers. That is a misconception many small business owners have when it comes to cyber-attacks. In fact, this could not be much further from the truth! Small businesses must take online protection seriously.

Nearly 50 percent of all cyber-attacks are on small businesses. Why is this? It boils down to the fact too many small businesses take the attitude of “it won’t happen to me,” or “I don’t have anything valuable to hackers, if they do get in,” or “online security is just so expensive, I cannot afford it.”

According to the Kansas Small Business Development Center, the average cost of recovery for a small business after a cyber-attack is nearly $117,000. Roughly 60 percent of those companies breached will never recover and will close their doors within six months. For many, they have no support network in place, and they simply do not know where to turn after a breach. These statistics alone should catch the attention of every hard-working, small business owner striving to build their American dream. Corporate America is spending about one-percent of revenue on cyber-protection, and it is time small businesses do the same.

In the business world there is general lack of awareness of the dangers. Cyber-attacks come from individuals who may be located anywhere in the world, or they may be from a very large syndicate of cyber-terrorists. The attacks may be very deliberate, where a good online security protocol must be in place to ward it off. This attack is more technical in nature and relies upon weaknesses in firewalls, passwords, etc. Other attacks may be more behavioral in nature, where an attack may come in the form of an innocent looking email telling us we must update our email profile, or we will be locked out of our account. Never click on any link on a suspicious email. By working closely with our internet service providers and our network technicians, we can develop a plan for technical protection. Educating our employees and our family of the dangers of cyber-attacks is vital for the protection of our business from the behavior weak points.

In the future, we will face additional scrutiny as we conduct online business. Business partners will more and more demand we have protocols in place, especially those pursuing contracts with the government, large businesses, or industry. Many insurance companies now offer insurance protection for cyber-attacks, but we may see more and more requirements that we have active protocols and education in place in order for the insurance to cover us. Financial institutions will likely have more stringent online security guidelines as we move forward.

For support with cyber security contact your local network technician, your local internet service provider, or contact one of the Kansas Small Business Development Centers located throughout Kansas.