October is a notoriously scary month for a number of reasons. For one, there is the impending winter that is lurking just around the corner. Of course there is also Halloween, and all of the ghouls and goblins and children with sugar highs that comes with it. And now we can add cyber security to the list as October is National Cyber Security Awareness month.
In recent years, the media has reported a number of large companies that have suffered data breaches. We have seen companies like Home Depot, Staples, Chik-fil-A, and even the retail mecca that is Target scramble to save face after the personal information of their customers was stolen from company servers. While these companies were large enough to bounce back from their respective data breaches, smaller business owners should know that hackers absolutely do not discriminate. According to the 2015 Symantec Internet Security Threat report, small businesses account for 60% of all cyber attacks and unfortunately, 60% of those small businesses affected will close their doors within six months of the breach.
As with most things, prevention is the best cure in matters of cyber security. Here are a few tips
- Avoid using the same password for multiple logins -While using your dog’s name for every service that requires a password may be easy to remember, it also makes a hacker’s job exponentially easier. Choose a variety of terms and change them up from time to time to keep your information far less vulnerable.
- Invest in quality malware detection software (and keep it up to date!) –Services like Norton Anti-Virus and Malwarebytes detect malware and phishing software and alerts users of the threat before they unknowingly give personal information to the cyber criminals. (The shady software is often planted in grammatically incorrect emails from an unfamiliar contact.) It is also very important to keep these services up to date should you invest in them. Hackers are constantly finding gaps in otherwise secure systems, so those pesky update notifications you always seem to get are really just the good guys patching those gaps up.
- Know what you’re installing before you install it- Apps need your permission before you install them on your computer or device, but before you quickly hit “accept,” make sure you know exactly what you are agreeing to. Some apps will request access to your camera, contacts, and even your microphone. Even if the app was not designed with malicious intent, should the wrong person hack into its servers, they can have access to information that could cause a great deal of damage to your business.
- Invest in Cyber Liability Insurance- Sometimes you can take every preventative measure possible and still fall victim to a cyber attack. In the event of a security breach, you can take solace in the fact that you have Cyber Liability insurance. Most Cyber Liability will cover:
- Costs associated with a privacy breach (consumer notification, customer support & costs of providing credit monitoring serves to affected customers. 1
- Business interruption and extra expense related to a breach. 1
- Liability for security or privacy breaches. This would include loss of confidential information by allowing, or failing to prevent, unauthorized access to computer systems.
A few simple preventative measures can change everything should a hacker set his or her sights on your business, while investing in Cyber Liability insurance may be the difference between bouncing back from a breach and closing your doors for good.