The Importance of Data Security

cyber securityIt is easy to fall into the mistaken idea that you already have enough safeguards in place to protect your small business. You probably stay current with the latest antivirus software, but is that sufficient? You also probably think that since you’re not really a huge corporation, you don’t have to worry about cyber criminals hacking into your system. But here’s the unlucky reality: cyber criminals have upped their game and are starting to target small businesses more and more. Let’s take a closer look to  give you a better understanding of the level of danger your business may be under.

Small firms: low-hanging fruit

The truth is, hackers have discovered that small businesses are easier targets, and therefore are increasingly preying upon them. They are able to infiltrate their systems at a considerably faster rate, and with a better percentage of success as well. This means a cyber criminal can assault multiple targets in the time it would take them to lay siege to a better-guarded system with a higher level of data security. How can it be worth their while to steal from a mom and pop business? In today’s modern world, virtually every business utilizes digital payment processing methods. When your customers pay using a credit card, this data must run through your system to be verified. This represents a goldmine of information for hackers, as they can lift this data without being discovered. With your customers’ credit card numbers, addresses and names, they can make counterfeit charges on their accounts.

How hackers gain access to your data

Even though you most likely have systems in position to defend your data, hackers will make use of several points of entry, so firewalls alone might not be enough. Harmful email attachments are one of the biggest offenders. These attachments can leave your system wide open for data mining. This year alone in the first quarter, 6 million malware programs were found. Apart from these more high-tech tactics, cyber criminals also use low-tech methods to steal information. Telephone calls as well as personal visits by someone posing as a network administrator or security firm can be damaging. We all hope our workers are smart enough not to be seduced by an apparent phishing scam, but it only takes one slip up to open yourself up for attack.

The buck stops with you

Many people believe that since credit card companies are usually responsible for any bogus charges that occur from a hacking event, that data security isn’t crucial. While this may be true for a consumer, for a business owner the result may be very different. Consumers will hold you responsible personally should their information be stolen. Damage control after an attack can cost a company thousands of dollars and in some cases a single attack can spell the end of business in general.

An ounce of prevention…

So, in relation to your data security, taking additional precautions is a sensible move. Not only should you upgrade your programs whenever possible, take a look at strengthening your passwords as well. Don’t use obvious phrases, and never leave the default password in place. Also, instruct your employees not to share their login information or open attachments from unfamiliar senders when checking their email. You can even hire an outside consultant to guarantee the security of your customers’ data. Taking these kinds of measures can give you piece of mind, knowing that your systems are safe from attack.

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