Cybercrime and data breaches have been steadily rising for years, posing a threat to businesses of all sizes. About 96% of these breaches directly target payment card information; for instance, malware might be installed to capture card data when customers make purchases. These types of attacks seem to be growing more sophisticated and tricky to circumvent, meaning digital security has never been so crucial.

As a business owner, it’s your duty to protect customers’ data like names, addresses and credit card information. In doing so, you also protect your own organization from the liability issues and financial implications associated with a cyberattack.

How can cybercrime threaten your business? Well, in many ways. But let’s take a look at three of the most common threats and how you can protect your organization from them.

#1: Targeting Small Businesses

small businessMany small and midsize business owners mistakenly believe that cybercriminals only go after the big guys. After all, a bigger target with a bigger bank account means a bigger payday for hackers. Right?

Not always.

Larger companies can afford a full IT staff, which often results in better implemented cybersecurity measures. Meanwhile, smaller companies might have little more than a couple IT employees, a firewall and antivirus software. This meager security might be because of budget and/or the belief that a small business owns nothing of value to a hacker.

While hackers might get more money (or a larger volume of customer credit numbers) out of a bigger business, it’s much easier to attack a smaller business with limited security resources. Hackers just need to find one crack in security and they can gain access to sensitive data. This is why small businesses have become the favored targets for these crimes of opportunity. The financial impact — including cost of recovery and reputation damage — can be so substantial that 60% of small businesses close their doors for good within 6 months of a data breach.

Your business’ IT staff — whether one employee or a team — should update software regularly. Any security patches released for existing software should be promptly installed and implemented. Skilled IT personnel should consistently work towards improving security measures according to the latest technology in order to protect your business from cybercrime.

#2: Sending Malware

phishingMany cyberattacks are sent through emails, encouraging employees to click on links that turn out to be dangerous. Some of this links might install malware, spyware or ransomware on the computer, which can then potentially spread to the entire network.

It’s prudent to train your employees on spotting these phishing emails, along with implementing a process for reporting suspicious emails to IT. This tactic goes beyond simply setting up restrictions on work computers.

Another issue stems from employees using their own devices for work purposes, potentially exposing the business to any malware that may be on those devices. It might prove beneficial to require authentication in order to access cloud-based data. You’ll also need to consider what your business intends to do if any of these devices are compromised, stolen or lost.

Cyberthreats are constantly changing, so employee training should keep pace. Your staff is your business’ first line of defense, so it’s important to equip them with the knowledge and skills necessary to avoid these unfortunate incidents.

#3: Stealing Data

hackerIt’s not uncommon for a data breach to cost a business at least $200,000, if not more. While large companies might be able to bounce back from that cost with relative ease, smaller businesses might be crippled by the loss.

Why does this cost you so much? In the event of a hack or data breach, you might lose sensitive company information that needs recovering. You might also lose sensitive customer information, in which case you’ll need to notify customers and possibly offer identity protection for those who were affected. Hardware could possibly be damaged, which will need to be replaced. Additionally, your business’ reputation might be marred after the incident, possibly calling for PR services.

Most importantly, you’ll want to shore up security to prevent similar issues from occurring in the future. Computers owned by your business should have firewall protection and anti-virus software installed. Additional security measures are usually a good idea as well. Your IT staff can make customized recommendations based on the unique needs of your business.

Protect Your Business

vaultCybercrime like payment information theft is a constant threat in the digital age. Money travels across the internet every second of every day. Taking precaution by implementing security measures is no longer an option if you want to keep your business and customers safe. Even small businesses should employ at least one skilled IT professional who can ensure the ongoing security of the organization, especially payment security.

Along with firewalls and secure payment terminals, using software that is hard-coded with security in mind is imperative. Fortunately, Forte Payments Systems offers a comprehensive package of payment solutions that comply with strict security standards. Visit our website to learn more about secure payment processing.

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