By Ben Kinsey
|Image courtesy wikimedia|
In my previous blog, I detailed all the ways in which online reviews and ratings can make or break a business. This week I’d like to delve into the other dangers that lurk just below the surface of your digital domain. Specifically, I’d like you to take a hard look at the part of your business that resides in Cyberspace. You know, your website, landing pages, blog, in-house server and social sites. The problem with many business owners is that they don’t have a handle on just how vulnerable their digital assets are. While most business owners would never think of heading home after the day is done without first locking their office, many leave their digital domain woefully ill-equipped to deal with hackers, industrial espionage or disgruntled employees. As I pointed out in my last blog, if you don’t police and secure your digital assets, it’s quite possible that some fine day you may arrive at the office to find your business in serious financial straits.
The Big Hack Attack
A recent article on Inc Magazine’s website, pointed out two salient facts:
1. Companies lost more than $400 billion to hackers in 2018.
2. In the same year, companies spent an additional $170 billion shoring up their digital defenses.
Now I don’t know about you, but $570 billion in lost revenue doesn’t sound like something to sneeze at. Especially when you consider that these costs are only going to go up year in and year out. If you don’t believe your company could be targeted by hackers, think again. It’s all too easy for hackers to infect small businesses with ransomware or denial of service attacks that leave the business owner with two choices: Pay up or have the company server rendered useless. If you and your employees suddenly find you can’t use your computers, how long will it be before your business is out of business? A week? A month? If you do get hacked, don’t expect the police or the FBI to come to your rescue either. That’s because hacking is an international business. And brother, business is booming.
|Image courtesy Pixabay|
Here’s another newsflash – Hackers don’t have to shut you down to harm your business. They can simply pilfer valuable data from your computer. If you store customer records that includes credit card numbers, any hacker can turn these into cold, hard cash. That’s if they don’t steal your bank account information from your machine only to wipe out your company account in the blink of an eye. (The Inc Magazine article mentioned the fact that the FBI admitted recent thefts from financial institutions by hackers added up to more than $1 billion.)
Industrial Espionage is also on the rise, and not only for Fortune 500 companies. If your company does any kind of competitive bidding, just think of how much it would be worth to a competitor if they had advance knowledge of your proposed bids. Or, think of what it would mean to your competition if they were privy to the schedule of your company’s sales meetings. How would they find out, you ask? When was the last time you policed your company’s social nets, or those of your employees? Just as loose lips sink ships, if you haven’t laid down the law about the dos and don’ts of social networking, you’d be surprised at what your staff could be posting to one and all. (It’s more common than you think.)
|Image courtesy flickr|
Speaking of employees, how much access do they have to your digital domain? While your staff may not have root access to your server, they don’t need it in order to damage your company. All a disgruntled employee has to do is post spurious remarks about your business on the social nets. Even worse, employees can post comments online about others in the company, which could potentially get the company dragged into a lawsuit. The clear way around this danger is to take the time to educate every employee on the potential risks and hazards of social media.
Error by omission can occur if your business doesn’t have a bulletproof means of protecting your digital assets. This should include multiple layers of anti-malware software, as well as an unhackable way of backing up your data and software. By unhackable, I mean a backup system that isn’t connected full-time to your machine. If it is connected, it can be hacked right along with your digital devices. A bulletproof backup is one that can be unplugged from your devices and stored in a secure location. This way if you get hacked and your data is either corrupted, encrypted or erased, you can rebuild it all in a hurry and keep your business humming along in this wired world.
The bottom line is if you want to protect your bottom line against digital disruption, you’d best get cracking before the bad guys start hacking you.
Ben Kinsey, CPA of Small Business Group works with owners of closely held corporations in the Northeast Florida region. If you work in the North Florida area we offer a FREE initial Consultation at our office, please contact Small Business Group if you would like to know more about strategies for your business.