The biggest threats to a small business are break-ins, fires, flooding from a broken line or a natural disaster, right ? While physical threats are a very big concern, there is one threat that is even more pervasive. A threat that can have an immediate impact on your business’ revenue and has the potential to close your doors forever – the threat of the online world.
Online threats are much harder to prevent than physical threats, and they can cause more dramatic declines in revenue as well. Contrary to popular belief, multinational companies – Target, Home Depot, Sony and Equifax – are not the only businesses that fall victim to cyberattacks. Over a 12-month period, hackers targeted 14 million small businesses. Major retailers make up less than 10 percent of all businesses that suffer breaches. In truth, half of all data breaches are aimed at small businesses.
Why? Big companies are more aware of the online threat and have the resources to protect themselves. Small businesses often fail to realize that they are the larger target for hackers. Cyber criminals know smaller companies spend less time, effort and money protecting themselves and their customers sensitive data.
High-risk businesses are also a huge target. A high-risk business is a business type or an industry traditional banks prefer to steer clear of. Some of the reasons a business might be categorized as such include: bad credit history, high chargeback rates, high volume sales, limited time in business and a higher threat of fraud.
The truth is all business owners should assume that their sensitive data is consistently under attack. This information includes:
- Your customer credit card information. Cyber criminals then sell this information via rogue websites.
- Personal information. Any hint of data like bank account numbers and social security numbers will attract hackers.
How to Defend Your High-Risk Business
There are several actions you can take that will help protect your business from data breaches.
- Outsource your business’ payment platform. How is that possible considering that my business is high-risk, you ask? It’s true that most payment processors will shy away from you. The key is to find an alternative provider that will offer you high risk credit card processing. In doing so, you will create another obstacle hackers will have to figure out how to get around.
- Stay up-to-date. As quickly as technology changes for businesses (consider the advancements in AI alone), so do the number and types of online threats. This year, experts say businesses can expect more huge data breaches like the cyberattack on Equifax in 2017. Ransomeware in the cloud, the weaponization of AI and the mining of cryptocurrencies are just a few other online threats that are expected to be huge this year.
- Invest/implement a web application firewall. Another thing to consider is always taking the time to download security updates when you are notified. Because security updates come when you least expect them to and often at inconvenient moments, it is tempting to overlook them.