Education and Awareness are the Keys to Prevention of Cyber-Crime and Data Risk.

Everyone knows that cyber-crime is a serious and growing threat to small and medium-sized businesses. However, while most business owners acknowledge its existence few fully understand the severity and extent of these threats.

No matter what industry you’re in, cyber-attacks are always a risk to your important information. As businesses rely less and less on paper and begin to store more and more of their data and confidential information on computer software, the danger of cyber crime increases. While security once meant locks and alarm systems, it now requires encryption and passwords.

Professionals have found that the most common threats to a small business are employee negligence or malice and are frequently associated with the ongoing trend of employees using their own computers at work. Many of these personal devices have applications that can threaten network security and the storage of confidential information on an employee’s personal device can be a recipe for disaster.

Of the three largest cyber-security threats to small businesses, two derive from within the company. One huge threat to cyber-security are user errors that can lead to the loss of data. Another big problems that many businesses face is employee theft of intellectual property, made easy by the “bring your own device” program. The biggest threat from outside the organization is “phishing”. Phishing is when hackers trick employees into revealing important usernames and passwords for all types of important programs and accounts.

The world of cyber attacking is constantly increasing as technology continues to progress. Researchers at AT&T found that every second, 3.5 new cyber-threats are created. They also found that about 60% of small businesses have endured a network or data security breach, costing an average of $10,000 each.

The reason why these threats keep growing is that the hacking processes created by cyber criminals are advancing at an extremely high rate. These threats are called APTs (advance persistent threats) and they are extremely dangerous because they stray from the traditional methods like, spam and the distributed denial-of-service attacks which are much easier to mitigate.

While the movement towards more reliance on technology and cloud computing opens business up to a higher exposure of cyber-security risks, it also brings immeasurable benefits to a company’s efficiency. So while we can’t step backwards into a less-technological world, the best that we can do is maintain a high level of awareness about the threats we face and the measures we can take to deal with them.