When we think of cyber attacks, our minds often jump to major corporations, millions of dollars, and large scale media scandals.
However, experts are saying that small businesses are increasingly at risk  for data breaches and other cyber threats.
With this in mind, it’s more important than ever for small and mid-sized businesses to have a data security strategy in place. If not, their employees, customers, and reputation in the community is at risk.
Why Small Businesses?
In 2012, a report from Symantic Security Response  found that attacks on small businesses had risen 300 percent over the previous year. That number has been on the rise ever since.
The reason cyber attackers target small businesses is simple: it’s easier. They’re often less secure, with a smaller security budget, and the mindset that they’re too insignificant to attract attention. Given that most attacks are fully automated, these attackers can make it through a small business’s defenses much faster than they can a larger corporation, allowing them to target more companies in a shorter period of time.
Unfortunately, the negative impact on small businesses may also be disproportionately higher. They often face a loss of public trust as well as a significant financial loss, which can be crippling to many businesses of this size.
How Can You Protect Yourself?
The first step to protecting your small business is to increase your data security budget. You don’t have to spend millions to create a successful strategy that protects your information and the information of your clients. On average, it takes companies six months to realize they’ve been breached, so by taking a proactive approach you can cut down on the potential damages and limit your risk.
You should also be aware of the risks to your company. Oftentimes, these breaches occur when employees fail to observe proper security protocols, including secure passwords, downloading files online, and phishing scams. The use of mobile devices for business purposes only increase the risk to small businesses. Have a plan for each of your risk factors, allowing you to respond to them should problems arise.
Even if you don’t have the budget to keep a full-time IT specialist on staff, you can invest in security software or remote services, and thoroughly train your staff to recognize threats when they see them. This proactive approach is both affordable and dramatically reduces the risk of cyber attacks on your small business.
Though small businesses are finding themselves increasingly in danger of these devastating attacks, there are ways that business owners can protect themselves and their company. By planning for the worst, you can keep your small business safe from cyber threats.
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