You read the news and hear about cyber attacks on big businesses and think, “that would never happen to me.” It’s an easy trap to fall into. Many Small & Medium Business (SMB) owners operate under the guise that cyber criminals go after the big fish – the ones with lots of money, sensitive data, and a strong identity. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.
SMBs are an equally attractive target for cyber criminals, and usually, they’re easy targets. It takes less effort to break into an unprotected SMB system than it does to blow past the firewalls of the large corporations.
This isn’t just speculation either. 31 percent of data breaches were on businesses with 100 or fewer employees, and another 9 percent were on businesses with 101 to 1,000 employees, according to the Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report.
Cyber crime impacts companies of all shapes and sizes. Here are 8 cyber security threats that SMBs are especially at risk of falling victim to.
1. Theft of Sensitive Data
Time for a security check. How safely are you storing your data and your customer’s information?
Sensitive data is passed around your business daily. Customers give you their payment information. Vendors accept your payment information. Staff have paychecks deposited directly into their bank accounts. Usually the passing of this payment happens online and when it does, cyber criminals want to steal it to use for their own malicious reasons.
The amount of sensitive data being passed via the Internet is at an all time high. Cyber criminals are stealing credit card information to sell in the black market. This data can be sold for as much as $300 per record, which makes it an attractive target for thieves.
2. Trade Secrets
SMBs have something unique to offer. You’re innovating, building, growing, and producing the latest and greatest new things. All this innovation and growth means you have a handful of trade secrets in your arsenal. To the right cyber criminal, those trade secrets are worth gold. On the black market, thieves might be able to sell these as a get rich quick scheme to people who don’t want to put in the years of work you have.
3. Identity Theft
A person’s identity is valuable on the black market today. Over 11 million had their identity stolen in 2012, with damages as a result of the theft reaching $21 billion, according to Statistic Brain.
The information you keep about your employees, such as social security number, bank account information, and more, is perfect for thieves who want to sell identities to make a pretty penny. Securing your human resources information can help you and your employees avoid a major personal disaster that could come back to haunt your company’s reputation.
4. Your Reputation
Speaking of reputation, yours is on the black market too. Competitors often use underhanded ways of getting the advantage in the marketplace. One is by destroying your reputation online.
Reputation destruction today goes way beyond sharing a few bad reviews online. Attacks are often done by rogue employees or disgruntled customers who aim to destroy your business by stealing data and slowing down your success so they (or a competitor) can get ahead.
5. Your Email
One of the most used apps on a smartphone is the email app. People are constantly connected to their inboxes today. It’s the way to keep in touch, especially with customers and teams who are geographically separated.
Buried within these email accounts is access to your other accounts. iTunes, airlines, your business’s website login information, or even your online banking is all stored in your inbox. Hack one account and the cyber criminals can access many.
6. Medical Insurance Fraud
Health insurance isn’t cheap. That’s why the black market for health insurance was born. Now, medical insurance fraud is a growing threat in North America. In the United States alone it costs American taxpayers $80 billion every year, according to FBI estimates. Thieves use this to buy prescription drugs, which can then be sold on the street for more money to those who don’t have insurance. If your medical insurance isn’t locked and sealed up tight, thieves could be coming after your employees benefits information next.
7. Online Banking Theft
It’s a simple concept. If thieves gain access to your bank account, they’re going to be able to drain your funds. What would you do if you came into the office thousands of dollars poorer? Would you be able to make payroll? Would you be able to buy inventory? Would you be able to pay vendors?
Online banking is highly convenient, but if done on an insecure network, it could expose you to a major cyber security threat.
Ransomware is when a cyber criminal uses malware to hold your business’s data hostage. The malware is inadvertently downloaded to your network (usually when an employee mistakenly opens a file that appears trustworthy) and soon, a ransom is set. Pay up and you might be able to get your data back. Yes, it’s not even guaranteed... Wait to pay and the ransom goes up, while your cash flow usually goes down.
It’s a nightmare scenario and one that’s affecting many businesses of all sizes. Companies are being forced to pay thousands of dollars to reclaim what is rightfully theirs.
The Threat is Real
Cyber criminals are relentless. They’re experts at hacking accounts and stealing from unsuspecting SMBs and it’s all done with the intent of malicious gain. Most of the time it’s a monetary gain. Sometimes, the gain is meant to be used to destroy your business and give your competitors an unfair advantage. Whatever it is, one thing is certain – without solid security measures in place, you’re at risk. At Gradient Data Solutions we can help you out with all your IT security needs. Give us a call at (786) 619-3832 today to see how we can secure your network from the growing number of cyber criminals targeting businesses just like yours.