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Is your small business protected from cyber crime?

Lets be honest – if your business is relatively small, chances are you are not well protected from cyber crime and other dangers that lurk in the shadows of the Internet. I often mention how just a couple of decades can be so impactful and how quickly technology became a part of our everyday lives. With the rising of online shopping, businesses followed popular demand into the virtual realm. It did not take long before criminals followed this path in their quest for destruction and gave birth to new creative ways to scam and harm others.

Why would someone target me?

A big misconception is that hackers and other types of cyber criminals target mainly large companies as they can provide both the thrill and the money to make their effort worthwhile. Looking at some statistics over 30% of attacks are actually aimed to smaller companies with fewer employees. This is further eased as a whopping 69% of such businesses don’t even think such an attack can harm their reputation and finances, choosing to neglect their security for data breaches.

Just because you don’t make a ton of money it does’t mean that you are safe. Quite the contrary. The amount of damage you can suffer after a data breach is alarming – numerous black markets all over the web provide credit card information, bank account info, card cloners or large lists of contact information for people to spam. And its not even hard or expensive to acquire such info – credit card info can be found for around a $100 and obtaning a bank account with guaranteed balance inside costs just a few hundred bucks. This goes to show you how vulnerable we all are and why more and more clients are looking for website with proven trustworthiness and security.

How can I be breached?

I don’t want to scare you but there are more than a few ways a shady criminal can get what they want. A combination of ways even. Most certainly, the top spot (with around 75% of cases) is held by the exploitation of weak or stolen credentials (account passwords, email passwords, PIN numbers etc.). Its 2015 and if you are still using a password like “password”, “monkey123” or “123456” you are just begging for bad things to happen. Free scripts and plugins (as with anything free) sound great but they are also a very preferred environment by hackers for putting pieces of malicious code. This code can sit dormant for years, waiting to be activated remotely in the right moment, sucking your clients’ data or attacking your website directly. But danger does not always come from the outside. Employees or freelancers misusing or abusing privileges is not that uncommon so you have to be vigilant within the company.

What can I do to protect my small business from cyber crime?

Protecting your business starts by protecting yourself. Go through and make sure all your passwords are strong and secure enough. Use different passwords for different services so if one is breached, the others are still isolated. Don’t keep your passwords in emails as this is one of the most popular doorways for intrusion. Run malware and virus checks on your personal/office computer frequently

Your hosting provider might offer you daily/weekly backups but the most important backups are the ones you make and store offline or in a cloud service. One can never predict what extremities might occur with the host or datacenter, so having a contingency plan in such scenarios is imperative.

If you are having an online shop or any website that requires visitors to submit personal or billing details, I’d strongly suggest adding a private SSL certificate, which will encrypt this data and your business will appear more trustworthy and legitimate. Also check with your hosts about any extras that will provide virus and malware scanning and protection and, just like with your personal computer, make sure to run checks regularly.

Dangers might lurk everywhere but no need to panic – establishing the right procedures and partnering with the right companies can still greatly mitigate the risks. So do you think you’ve done the necessary to protect your small business from cyber attacks? Share your stories and tips in the comments below.

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Radoslav Chakarov

Huge music fan, from funk through hard rock and hip-hop to reggae - you name it! When not at a live show or online (rarely!) he likes chilling, surrounded by nature, with a beer in hand or riding his bicycle somewhere in the mountains.

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