Cyberattacks commonly make headlines. However, if you’re a solopreneur, you may think online criminals are most interested in targeting the biggest enterprises. That’s not necessarily true. These perpetrators thrive on wreaking havoc, and they often focus on smaller businesses in their attacks. Here are some compelling reasons to take cybersecurity seriously and how you can do that effectively.
How and Why All Solopreneurs Should Prepare for Cyberattacks
Cyberattacks Have Become More Prevalent and Costly
One crucial reason to defend your company against potential cyberattacks is they’re happening more frequently overall. A 2019 survey polled nearly 5,400 cybersecurity professionals worldwide to get their feedback on internet crimes. One worrying finding was that 61% of respondents said their organizations experienced cyberattacks, compared to 45% in the previous year.
Additionally, the study’s conclusions showed that the median cost of losses from those incidents totaled $369,000, versus $229,000 in the previous year. Solopreneurs should also realize that it’s often difficult to calculate the total financial costs immediately. They can range from damage to a reputation to compromised records.
These statistics emphasize that you cannot hope criminals will overlook your small business. Act as if it will get targeted unless you put proactive measures in place. Consider hiring an expert to carry out a cybersecurity audit to find your organization’s weak points. Alternatively, conduct it independently while following a checklist or framework of best practices.
Small Businesses Are Increasingly Targeted More Often
Statistics warn that small-business owners cannot breathe sighs of relief when weighing their likelihood of cyberattacks. A 2019 report specifically looked at such issues faced by small and medium-sized enterprises. It found that 76% of companies in the United States had dealt with attacks over the previous 12 months. That total represents a 21% increase from data collected in 2016.
The study also revealed that 63% of these companies located globally, and 69% of U.S. enterprises, experienced data loss as a primary impact of a cyberattack. Many companies experience accidental data loss due to employee or contractor errors. For example, if a worker leaves a laptop on the seat of a car and the computer is stolen, the thief might delete your company’s data on it or use the information for malicious reasons.
However, since data loss is one of the top consequences of cyberattacks associated with small businesses, you should prepare by backing up your company’s information regularly and potentially storing it in multiple places. If you use a cloud backup service, ransomware attacks affecting your organization’s networks or physical devices won’t hinder your operations as much as they could otherwise.
Cybersecurity Issues Cause Indirect Effects
Another vital thing for solopreneurs to keep in mind is that cybersecurity shortcomings could impact the external companies they rely on to keep everything running smoothly. Online criminals love to explore how to expand their reach to create the most havoc for their victims. That could mean your company gets caught in the aftermath even if poor cybersecurity on your end did not cause the issue.
A disturbing and recent trend in the maritime shipping industry shows that all four of the world’s largest ocean carriers were hit with ransomware attacks. The enterprises could not access some of their business content without paying a fee to hackers that would supposedly unlock them. At least one of the affected companies did not immediately tell customers of the attack’s specifics. However, it temporarily disabled e-commerce functionality.
A cybersecurity attack that strikes your suppliers, logistics firms or other third-party companies could disrupt your business, too. As you research your options before choosing these partners, try to get details about how seriously they take cybersecurity. Ask what precautions they implemented and how the brand would respond after an incident to keep customers safe and informed.
Hackers Could Get More Access Than You Think
Most people use numerous passwords each day. They might enter them when logging into an online bank account, before buying supplies at an e-commerce site and when accessing a favorite social media platform. Many aspects of our lives occur online. That’s often convenient, but it can provide broadly available access to online perpetrators.
Using easy-to-guess passwords or reusing them across multiple sites increases hackers’ chances of doing more damage. One commonly deployed method is a brute-force attack, where hackers use algorithms to rapidly try many passwords to enter a web portal, hoping to find the right one.
Having your credentials compromised for a single site is bad enough, but the hassles for yourself and your business rise if you use the same password for most of the websites accessed. Ensure you use strong, unique passwords to minimize the effects of a breach. Some browsers and third-party applications automatically generate them for you and recommend when to change them.
Cybersecurity Issues Damage Customers’ Trust
It takes a careful, sustained effort to build customer trust and loyalty. Unfortunately, one data breach could rapidly erode those things. People want to feel safe doing business with you. A cybersecurity problem could convince them to take their patronage elsewhere.
A study found that 81% of customers would stop their online engagement with brands that suffered data breaches. Additionally, 63% agreed it was always a company’s responsibility to protect data associated with consumers. You can reduce the chances of disappointed people going elsewhere by showing that you thought carefully about what to do if a breach happened, and wasted no time acting.
Besides taking preventive measures against data breaches, create a detailed plan for handling them if they happen. Show transparency when communicating with customers after the incident, and go over the specific steps you took after learning about the problem to stop future issues from occurring. Tell customers about the type of data stolen, and clarify whether they need to do anything based on what happened.
Size Doesn’t Matter to Those Who Orchestrate Cyberattacks
Small businesses cannot enjoy guaranteed safety from cyberattacks. Associated losses could be severe enough to put them out of business — and many larger ones struggle financially afterward, too.
Moreover, the statistics about cyberattacks hitting small enterprises more frequently than they once did is certainly enough to make entrepreneurs take note. Many cybercriminals will expect and hope that you did not invest enough time and money into cybersecurity efforts. By applying the tips provided here and doing more research about how to conquer your company’s specific vulnerabilities, you can prove the perpetrators wrong.
This is a guest post from Lexie, a web designer and IoT enthusiast. She is an avid hiker and enjoys checking out local flea markets. Visit her design blog, Design Roast, and connect with her on Twitter @lexieludesigner.