High-profile cyber-attacks on large companies have generated headlines and raised awareness of the growing threat of cyber-crime. Recent survey data suggests that many small business owners are still operating under a false sense of cyber-security.
The statistics are grim: The vast majority of small businesses lack a formal Internet security policy for employees, and only about half have even rudimentary cyber-security measures in place. Furthermore, only about a quarter of small business owners have had an outside party test their computer systems to ensure they are hacker proof, and nearly 40 per cent do not have their data backed up in more than one location.
Shockingly, despite these significant cyber-security exposures, 85 per cent of small business owners believe their company is safe from hackers, viruses, malware or a data breach. This disconnect is largely due to the widespread, albeit mistaken, belief that small businesses are unlikely targets for cyber-attacks. In reality, data thieves are simply looking for the path of least resistance. As more and more large companies get serious about data security, small businesses are becoming increasingly attractive targets—and the results are often devastating for small business owners.
In recent years, nearly 60 per cent of the small businesses victimised by a cyber-attack closed permanently within six months. Many of these businesses put off making necessary improvements to their cyber-security protocols until it was too late because they feared the costs would be prohibitive. Don’t make the same mistake. Even if you don’t currently have the resources to bring in an outside expert to test your computer systems and make security recommendations, there are simple, economical steps you can take to reduce your risk of falling victim to a costly cyber-attack:
- Train employees in cyber-security principles.
- Install, use and regularly update antivirus and antispyware software on every computer.
- Use a firewall for your Internet connection.
- Regularly download and install software updates for your operating systems and applications.
- Make backup copies of important business data.
- Control physical access to your computers and network components.
- Secure your Wi-Fi networks. If you have a Wi-Fi network, make sure it is secure and hidden.
- Require individual accounts for each employee.
- Limit employee access to data and information, and limit authority to install software.
- Regularly change passwords.
Cyber-security is a serious concern for all businesses. Contact Sirelark Risk Services to learn how our risk management resources and insurance solutions can help protect your business from cyber-attacks.
The content of this publication is of general interest and is not intended to apply to specific circumstances or jurisdiction. It does not purport to be a comprehensive analysis of all matters relevant to its subject matter. The content should not, therefore, be regarded as constituting legal advice and not be relied upon as such. In relation to any particular problem which they may have, readers are advised to seek specific advice from their own legal counsel. Further, the law may have changed since first publication and the reader is cautioned accordingly. © 2012-2013 Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved.