What every small business needs to know about cyber security

As businesses rely more and more on technology and online services, these areas start to become targets. Hackers have realised they can have a huge impact on small businesses by disrupting their emails and websites.

Think of it like locking the front door of your house: if you have a small house in a small village, you may not lock your door. If only a few trusted locals go down your street chances are your house will be fine. However, if it becomes common knowledge amongst thieves that village houses often have unlocked doors, they become an easy target.

In the past, a small business that has a website and it’s own email service (rather than using gmail or hotmail) didn’t need to worry much about cyber security. Why would anyone bother you? Unfortunately, things have changed.

Risk of disruptions

It is now much easier for hackers to quickly target large numbers of businesses anywhere in the world and the potential rewards are much higher. While some businesses may not be completely reliant on their website being up 100% of the time, going even a full day without being able to send or receive emails could cause major disruptions.

One specific type of threat, that is increasingly faced by large and small businesses alike, is the most brute force and dumbest attack known as a “DDoS” attack. This is where a hacker controls thousands of computers that have been infected by viruses and they are all commanded to visit the same website at once. A standard small business website can’t cope with this rush of ‘zombie’ users trying to access the doorway of your website and completely shuts down. This type of attack can be purchased on the internet black markets for as little as $150, for a week’s worth of disruption.

Attacks are on the increase

The ease with which anyone can purchase such an attack has drastically increased the frequency with which they are carried out. The damage that can be done varies; but can include any combination of the following:

  • A DDoS attack may bring a business’s servers down for a few hours or days. A website being briefly unavailable may not seem a big issue, but it could easily cost a few customers.
  • Just going offline can impact your website’s performance in search rankings, but hackers installing malware can get your site removed from Google completely.
  • Going without email for any length of time can have a more immediate impact on the day to day running of your business if constant communication is required.
  • Even more seriously, a hacker may gain access to all information stored on your website. If you have an eCommerce site (an online shop) then the owner of the website is legally responsible for all of the customer information, including payment details which can be used to make financial transactions.

We’re not saying hackers are going to start bringing down your business tomorrow. We’re not that dramatic. But it might be time to start thinking about securing digital doors that might have once been left unlocked. If you’d like to know more about the security measures you can take, get in touch now to speak with our online business security team.

Click here to read about what precautions you can take now.

Find out more about the cyber security services offered by Alloy.

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