17 Jul 2013 What computer hacking assumption is the biggest risk to your company?

“It won’t happen to me.”

Quickly followed by…

“My company is not big enough or high profile enough to be a target for hackers.”

This is a trap that catches out a lot of people, yet the facts are clear: cyber criminals are targeting companies of all sizes.

Yes, Apple will be a juicier target than your smaller business, but your company is a heck of a lot easier to crack. Hackers know all too well that small to medium sized businesses often lack adequate security practices and infrastructure to remain protected.

So while the press loves to feature the high profile hacks by secretive organisations like Anonymous. Or the calamitous security breach experienced by Sony in 2011 when the personal data of 77 million users was comprised by hackers. Or when Facebook recently had the passwords of over 45,000 users stolen. Or when Twitter recently announced that 250,000 user accounts had been breached.

The truth is the multi-billion dollar malware and hacking industry feeds itself, in part, on the backs of small and medium sized companies like yours.

But why would hackers target your not so famous UK business?

To steal money – Hackers want your customers’ credit card and bank details (it’s as simple as that).

To steal intellectual property – If your data is valuable to you then it can also be valuable to cyber criminals. By stealing intellectual property hackers can bypass the months and years it may have taken you to accumulate and refine that knowledge.
To steal identities – Customer data (and that of your employees) is also very valuable in the wrong hands. Criminals often only need small amounts of personal data to begin the process of stealing identities.

To make you an accomplice  – Cyber attacks on large companies and governments often involve computers hijacked from small companies and even individual PCs. Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, for example, rely on using lots of poorly secured systems to act as accomplices, flooding networks with so many requests the systems simply crash.

What are the consequences of poor IT security?

Damaged reputation – Losing your customers’ personal data is embarrassing and will send them running for the hills. The Sony security breach caused a huge dent in their reputation. You can also pass on viruses to your customers and suppliers (which they also won’t thank you for).

Lost productivity – If you have workstations out of action or whole networks compromised your employees may be unable to work. That means idle time that you’re still paying for.

Increased expense – An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. In other words, it’s always cheaper and less disruptive to adequately protect systems, rather than trying to fix them.

You have no doubt invested a large amount of blood, sweat and tears into your business. Protecting your company systems and data from malicious hackers is just smart business.

At Offsite IT we can help you with an assessment of your IT data security. We know what we’re looking for and can quickly and cost-effectively identify the weak spots and areas of improvement.