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Cyber Security: A Top Priority for Small Businesses

Each year, wireless technology makes great strides — it’s advancing at an unstoppable pace, whether it’s at home or in the workplace. Some experts believe that by the year 2020, there will be around 26 smart objects for each person who walks the Earth. A lot of people may think that smart devices are mostly in people’s homes, but in reality, most of them can be found in businesses, factories, and healthcare.

If you’re a business owner, you’ll utilize the vital data from smart objects for a broad range of day-to-day functions, such as automation, payroll, increasing productivity, handling machines, tracking inventory, reducing expenses, storing customer data, retaining customers’ financial account information, and much more.

Today, wireless technology is critical to businesses’ core operations, but in effect, data is constantly at risk. As technology advances rapidly, businesses will develop a greater dependence on it, making them vulnerable to cyber criminals, malicious hackers, and hacktivists, like Anonymous — the organization behind the infamous Ashley Madison hack.

Each of these actors are fully capable of targeting citizens and governments, but also your small business — but you’ve probably been fearing that for some time. If cyber security hasn’t been one of your to priorities as a business owner, it should be.

True Cost of Cybercrime

McAfee Security places malicious cyber activity into six parts: 1) loss of confidential business information, 2) cybercrime, 3) loss of sensitive business information, 4) opportunity costs (e.g. disruptions in employment and a reduction in trust in online activities), 5) additional expense of security networks and recovery from cyber-attacks, and, 6) damage to the hacked company’s reputation.

“Put these together and the costs of cybercrime and cyber espionage to the global economy is probably measured in the hundreds of billions of dollars,” stated McAfee. While these figures represent the economic impact of cybercrime, what business owners need to be aware of is how it affects technology, reputation, competition, and their bottom line.

What the Statistics Say

Small Business Trends published an article entitled, “Cyber Security Statistics — Numbers Small Businesses Need to Know.” Here’s what Small Biz Trends learned after collecting cyber security data from various sources:

· Of all cyber-attacks, 43 percent target small businesses.

· Cyber-attacks affect small businesses BIG TIME; 60 percent of the small companies that are subject to a cyber-attack go out of business within 6 months of the attack.

· Of the data breaches, 48 percent of them are categorized as “malicious intent.”

· On average, the disruption to normal operations costs businesses $955,429.

Joshua Sophy of Small Business Trends told the HuffPost, “hackers are indiscriminately choosing their victims. It’s not a matter of who they’re targeting but what they’re targeting…your money.”

So, what’s the root cause of most data breaches? According to Small Business Trends, Negligent employee or contractor accounted for 48% of data breaches, followed by third party mistakes at 41%, and error in operating process at 35%. Additionally, 32% of the breaches were unknown, and 27% were caused by external hackers.

Conclusion

If you’re a business owner, you definitely want to learn how to protect your customers and your business, and the best way to get started is to start educating yourself on cybercrime. If you need direction on protecting your small business from cyber criminals, check out these helpful links from the Federal Trade Commission, and the U.S. Small Business Administration!

Elainna Ciaramella is an independent journalist, business blogger, and ghostwriter for entrepreneurs and business professionals nationwide. She has written extensively on the topics of business, entrepreneurship, law, and medicine. She is well-versed in search engine optimization, content marketing, and social media. You can connect with her on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google +, and Instagram.

Originally published on Wealth Builders NYC.