In today’s world, it's difficult to get through the day without interaction of a cell phone, computer, or other electronic devices connected to the internet. Technology, today, is simply all around us in everything we do, from work to our leisure time. We use technology to perform our jobs every day, leaving us vulnerable to cyber attacks whenever we get online. Cyber criminals have become the world’s most dangerous criminals simply because they can act covertly and from anywhere in the world. Regardless the size of your business you are not immune to cyber attacks. The potential impact to one’s business, for some, could make it nearly impossible to recover from a cyber attack. Having just one breach incident occur can mean the difference from running your business one day to closing shop the next.
Business owners should remain educated on all the ways a cyber breach could occur. Though there may be many entry points for a cyber criminal, the most common types of cyber crime are identify theft, hacking, and the distribution of malicious software and files. In a nutshell, the cyber criminal can steal financial information, your customer account information, gain access to personal files, and possibly steal from customer funds. Your customers are prey to phishing scams, which involves tricking someone into sharing sensitive information like passwords or credit card information.
In order to stay one step ahead of cyber crime, it’s important to remain vigilant and create processes to help prevent cyber attacks. Here are a few ways how a cyber attack can affect your business and why it is crucial to protect yourself.
1. Compromised assets impact your bottom line
If you are faced with a cyber attack, you’ll normally need to suspend electronic transactions until the culprit is identified and has been stopped, which could take days or even longer. During your temporary shutdown, you’ll likely lose business, since you’re unable to process orders and accept payments through your electronic methods. For some businesses, this can mean thousands of dollars a day lost—not to mention the reputation cost that comes on the heels of a breach.
2. Loss of private data offers cyber criminals accessibility
If a cyber criminal gains access to customer account numbers or personal information, they may be able to access funds directly from those accounts. In some cases, financial institutions do not cover losses, so you may lose the capital already invested within your company. This may mean an expensive recovery that could place a burden on your company for any future plans or growth. Take the necessary and effective measures to protect all your information.
3. Diminished brand reputation poses obstacle for recovery
Your company’s reputation is a big selling point to customers when they choose where they want to buy. It can take years to build this rapport with clientele, and for it to be taken away with one cyber breach can be devastating. If your company information is compromised, customers may choose to no longer trust your business and begin to take their business elsewhere. Regaining trust is an uphill battle, and one that you may never win when a cyber breach presents itself. Take all the precautions you need and avoid this scenario.
4. Liability for the breach can pose a financial hardship
As a business owner, it is your responsibility to implement processes to protect your clients and customers. If you fail to do so, you could face litigation and fines. A few years back, in 2013, a federal judge ruled that Target played a “key role” in a breach that occurred, giving the plaintiffs in the case—several large banks suing for damages—the ability to proceed with their lawsuit. It’s important to place proper security measures in place to ensure your business is protected from litigation in the event that you suffer a cyber breach. For some businesses, this could mean a total loss and force business owners to succumb to the unthinkable—closing shop.
As we have seen with the most recent “WannaCry” ransomware cryptoworm, it targeted more than 230,000 computers operating Microsoft Windows operating system by encrypting data and demanding ransom payments. The attack began May 12, 2017, in over 150 countries.
In 2015, more than 430 million unique pieces of malware were discovered and every year the number just keeps rising. In today's "wired" marketplace, protecting your business from a cyber breach should be just as prevalent as the physical alarm one places on its brick and mortar. Be proactive and approach cyber security by doing a thorough review of your current computer systems and employee training process. Be sure you have the latest protective software and firewalls installed, your networks are encrypted, and your employees are properly trained on how to securely process customer transactions.