By our guest blogger Jane Sandwood.
In 2017, an estimate of 43% of cybersecurity attacks were aimed at companies containing 250 employees or less. Small businesses are among the most vulnerable establishments for hacking, because they often transmit valuable personal data without adequate defense mechanisms. To best prepare themselves, small business owners should know the risks associated with advancements in software development and the hacking industry before developing a strategy to mitigate risk.
Web conferencing is among the most widely-used features for promoting intercommunication within small businesses. In fact, one study found that over 96% of workers believe web conferencing improves remote productivity in their companies. However, web conferencing, particularly apps like Skype, have recently been victim of high-level hacking attacks that require extensive coding to correct. These breaches can hurt small businesses, who rely on applications like Skype to conduct remote communication, and thus may compromise their privacy. Recently, Skype chose to terminate its business product, Skype Manager, which leaves many business owners lacking a central organization system to conduct their web conferencing. When looking for a new alternative to Skype, business owners should investigate web conferencing applications to ensure that they are reputable and use secure methods for storing personal information.
Apart from system malware, one central error that leads to security breaches is the “set and forget” model of cybersecurity: many people view cybersecurity as an add-on to purchase when purchasing a computer, and then promptly forget about it as they navigate the web. Regardless of their chosen cyber protection plan, small business owners (and indeed, all users of the internet) need to periodically check their program for software updates, security alerts, and suspicious activity. To increase cybersecurity, experts recommended identifying areas of vulnerability (for instance, areas where personal information is stored) and upping or renewing the system in place to protect that information. Business owners also need to be conscious of internal threats to cybersecurity, such as disgruntled employees or former employees who may have access to sensitive company data via the internet.
Given the recent rise in high-profile hacking attacks, small businesses need to be aware of the risks associated with storing information on insecure systems. Upping cybersecurity measures could end up paying off, in the long run, for minimizing the risk of a security breach and protecting sensitive company information. Cybersecurity is no longer a Silicon Valley problem, but rather, a prevalent risk for small business owners vulnerable to attack.