Small businesses represent ‘low hanging fruit’ for cyber criminals: indicators that you may have been compromised
Small businesses are targeted deliberately by cyber criminals because they frequently lack effective defences or even the ability to detect an attack. But those who do not have adequate defences against hackers are putting private information belonging to themselves, their business network and their customers at risk.
Membership of the global online community brings a host of opportunities for small businesses but it also places us in the path of the global cyber threat environment. It is worth noting that current estimates indicate that the cyber-crime economy is twice the size of global narcotics. There is also no doubt that it feeds actively on the small business community because it represents ‘low hanging fruit’ which, for these clever criminals, are very easy pickings indeed.
One important fact makes the harvesting of data from small businesses so very tempting. It is that few even realise when or if they have been compromised. Without the right tools and processes in place business owners may be completely oblivious to what is happening under their noses. Meanwhile, the cyber criminals have plenty of time to harvest their system electronically.
Company information has a value and will be actively traded in a global market place when compromised. In addition to data theft, there are many other things that a system could be used for including the propagation of viruses or the storage of stolen or illegal information.
Whilst isn’t hard to apply the baseline measures required to raise the bar to a safe level, many small businesses fail to protect themselves effectively because they erroneously assume that they are either safe or too unimportant.
Some key indicators that you may be at risk:
- You connect to the internet
- You have a website that collects information
- You can’t explain precisely how you have protected your system.
- You are unaware when your protection was last updated.
- You don’t know whether your system was last tested
- You don’t know what you would do when you discover you have been attacked.
If any of these are true then you need to find out more about how to protect yourself. Do not be put off by the effort you imagine it will be; you might find that you save effort and cost by focusing on what is important.
We are all part of the cyber environment and exposed to the global threats it contains. We have two choices – either we engage proactively with this environment and make ourselves safe or we must expect to be farmed, as a resource, by the threats that exist within it.