With the current technology advancements, companies are conducting many of their activities online. These activities include online marketing, online banking, storing customer and vendor data in computers, etc. As a result, businesses are exposed to cyber-attacks. Hackers will try to hack online banking systems to steal money. Competitors will hack customer data to acquire confidential information. The following are among the business aspects that are prone to cyber-attacks:
- Finance (Through hacking of online banking systems)
- IT equipment eg laptops, desktop and tablets
- Customer data
- Social Media
- Company websites
Small business owners have a false sense of security that small businesses are not prone to cyber-attacks. Small businesses are highly prone to cyber-attacks since they have little financial muscle to invest in cyber security. Statistics show that about 43% of cyber-attacks target small businesses. Over 50% of small businesses go out of business within 6 months after a cyber-attack. Therefore, it is important for businesses regardless of size to invest in cyber security.
FORMS OF CYBER-ATTACKS
- Unauthorized access to computers, laptops, tablets and other IT devices.
- A remote attack on a company website.
- Attack on information held in third party systems eg cloud.
IMPACTS OF CYBER ATTACKS ON BUSINESSES
- Financial losses
The following are causes of financial losses on businesses due to cyber-attacks:
- Theft of money
- Loss of financial information eg bank account details and credit cards details
- Inability to carry out online transactions due to hacking of online banking systems
- Huge costs incurred when fixing damages caused by cyber-attacks
- Damage to reputation
Cyber-attacks can damage your company reputation leading to loss of trust from customers. This may lead to loss of customers, loss of profits and damage relationships between companies and vendors. This might also affect B2B relationships. This is costly to the business and the company might go out of business in the near future.
- Legal implications of cyber-attacks
The law requires every company to safeguard any confidential data it has in its possession. This data may include customer data, employee data and vendor data. A cyber-attack might lead to leaking of this data. The company might be sued by its clients, vendors, and employees. Law suits are costs for the company. These costs combined with the costs of fixing cyber-attack damages may lead to huge financial crisis.
Other effects of cyber-attacks on businesses are:
- Loss of investor and shareholder trust
- Loss of jobs as those who could have prevented may be fired to pave way for new cyber security experts
- More attention from the government
- Loss of potential expansion opportunities as many companies may not be willing to do business with your company
HOW TO PREVENT CYBER-ATTACKS ON YOUR BUSINESS
1. Limit access
You should limit unauthorized access to IT systems including desktop and tablets. Certain employees should not have access to specific data. For example, financial data should not be accessed by a sales person.
2. Create backups
Any information in the computer systems should have a copy elsewhere. For example, vendor information stored in the desktop should have a copy in the cloud. Both copies should be secured.
3. Create a cyber security policy
Every company should have a written policy guiding employees on cyber security measures, eg keeping customer data confidential. The policy should provide clear guidelines on who has access to which information. This will help in tracing the causes of cyber-attacks in case they occur. The policy should also outline steps to be taken in case of a cyber-attack.
4. Update all IT systems
Ensure computers are updated regularly. Operating Systems should be up to date to tackle latest cyber-attacks. Use latest software and mobile app versions. Cyber-attacks are evolving and so should your IT system
5. Secure your Wi-Fi
Hackers can easily access your computer systems using your Wi-Fi connections. Wi-Fi networks should be secured using strong passwords. Ensure no unauthorized connections to your company`s Wi-Fi network.
6. Seek outside advice
A small business may not have the financial capability to hire the best cyber security experts. Their cyber security experts may not be able to tackle complex cyber-attacks. Companies should therefore seek external help regularly to be safe.
Every business ranging from start-ups to multi-national companies are prone to cybercrimes. Cybercrimes are evolving each day and therefore, every company should take their cyber security measures to another level. They should invest in cyber security to protect themselves, their employees and their customers.