Why Small Businesses Are Cybercriminals’ No. 1 Target

Today’s small businesses are woefully unprepared for digital threats. Cybercrime is at an all-time high in 2018, and yet a frightening number of small-business owners assume that their organization is too small to ever warrant the attention of hackers.

From the perspective of cybercriminals, most small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) represent the low-hanging fruit of the digital world: a modest pile of cash guarded by outdated or easily circumvented barriers. That’s why 71 percent of cyberattacks are directed at SMBs, according to Verizon’s annual Data Breach Investigations Report, and a huge number of those strikes actually succeed.

If you’re hoping to protect the business that you’ve built from the ground up, it’s important to be vigilant. Here are three steps you can take right now to drastically improve your chances at scaring off the wolves at your digital door:

Back up your data.
A large majority of data breaches today come in the form of ransomware, which locks users out of everything on a company’s network. Hackers then threaten to delete the data forever unless the company forks over thousands of dollars. But if you have all of your files automatically backed up to an alternate location (that can’t be accessed on your ordinary network), you can skip paying the ransom, let the criminals wipe your system, and make it through the crisis unscathed.

Train your employees.
It’s easy to imagine a team of evil geniuses typing at lightspeed to try to penetrate your business’s defenses, but 60 percent of the time, it’s a simple mistake by one of your employees that leaves the company wide open to attack. To combat this, you need to ensure that every single one of your employees is on board with strong cybersecurity practices. That means building a comprehensive cybersecurity policy that all members of your team must sign (including provisions such as password strength requirements) and supplying extensive training on the biggest digital threats.

Use firewall, antivirus, and encryption software.
Firewalls, which are usually included with your operating system, block unauthorized access to your network. Antivirus software serves as a watchdog, sniffing out malware and spyware before they become a problem. And encryption ensures that the data on your system is unreadable to anyone who doesn’t have the encryption key. All three of these powerful protections are inexpensive, user-friendly, and essential tools for businesses of all sizes seeking to stave off cybercriminals.