Hackers set their sights on small business

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By Shawn King, Huber & Associates

Imagine if your business was being held hostage. You arrive at work one morning to discover you and your employees are locked out of the computer system. Then you discover a digital ransom note in your inbox—demanding $5,000 in bitcoin currency if you want to regain access to your computers.

This hacker hostage scenario has already impacted small businesses across Missouri. A national report last year showed that such attacks are on the rise. In 2011, just one in five hacking victims was a small business. Today, hackers are choosing to target small businesses 43 percent of the time.

This may come as a surprise to many small business owners as these smaller hack-attacks rarely make headlines. Some attacks are not even reported, as small business owners simply pay the ransom and move on.

This trend toward small business hacking is a natural reaction to the cybersecurity efforts undertaken by larger businesses. After the high-profile business attacks of the last decade, most large companies have invested in cybersecurity measures, blocking out unwanted intrusions. That has caused hackers to refocus on smaller businesses, many of which still have rudimentary—or no—cybersecurity measures in place.

An unsecured small business is an easy target for today’s increasingly sophisticated hackers. Without security measures, it’s easy for someone to break in, lock you out and demand money. Once this happens, it’s too late. At this point, businesses are typically faced with either paying the ransom or investing in a new computer system.

So, as hackers continue to target smaller businesses, now is the time for small business leaders to get serious about cyber security.

One important first step is to assess how vulnerable your business currently is to cyber threats. A thorough audit of your network by a trained professional will either provide reassurance that your business is safe or show where your weaknesses lie.

I also recommend that businesses test their computer systems’ ability to withstand an attack. The best way to do this is to have a knowledgeable, friendly hacker attempt to break into your system. This real-world test will expose any potential backdoors that hackers have into your system and reveal how easy, or difficult, it could be for someone to commandeer your computers.

Once problems are revealed, businesses can move forward to analyze the threat and act to stop it.

The team at Huber & Associates is an IBM Premier Business Partner. We use proven technology, such as IBM QRadar, BigFix, MaaS360, and Guardium to implement sound cybersecurity solutions.

If you would like more information, visit us online at teamhuber.com or call us at 888-634-5000.

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