When it comes to data security, many people think they have an abundance of systems and precautions in place to keep their data safe. Sure, you might have antivirus software and you may even update it on a regular basis. You may even feel that you’re too small of a company to be a target of a hacking attempt. Only big firms that have thousands of clients need to worry about cyber criminals, right? Wrong. Hackers and cyber criminals have in fact escalated their focus on small businesses. We want to help you understand the dangers your small business may be facing.

Small firms: low-hanging fruit

The truth is, hackers have discovered that small enterprises are easier targets, and are increasingly preying upon them. They can infiltrate their systems at a much faster rate, and with a better percentage of success as well. This means a cyber criminal can assault multiple targets in the time it would take them to lay siege to a better-guarded system with a higher level of data security. How can it be worth their while to steal from a mom and pop operation? In today’s modern world, just about any business makes use of digital payment processing methods. Whenever your customers pay using a credit card, this data must run through your system to be verified. This represents a goldmine of information for hackers, as they can lift this information without being noticed. With your customers’ credit card numbers, addresses and names, they are able to make fraudulent charges on their accounts.

How hackers gain access to your data

Even though you probably have systems in place to protect your data, hackers will make use of multiple points of entry, so firewalls alone may not be enough. Destructive email attachments are among the biggest offenders. These attachments can leave your system wide open for data mining. This year alone in the first quarter, 6 million malware programs were found. Aside from these more high-tech tactics, cyber criminals also use low-tech methods to steal information. Phone calls or even personal visits by someone pretending to be a network administrator or security firm can be harmful. We all hope our employees are smart enough not to fall for an apparent phishing scam, but it only takes one slip up to open yourself up for attack.

The buck stops with you

Many people believe that since credit card companies are usually responsible for any deceptive charges that occur from a hacking event, that data security isn’t crucial. While this may be true for a consumer, for a business owner the end result may be very different. Consumers will hold you responsible personally should their information be stolen. Damage control after an attack can cost a business thousands of dollars and in some cases a single attack can spell the end of business in general.

An ounce of prevention…

Data security is extremely important and any additional precautions you can take can be sensible. Use strong passwords and update your existing security systems regularly. Educate your employees on safety measures they can take, such as creating strong passwords and never giving out login information. Hiring an outside consultant to help you ensure you and your client’s information is safe is another good idea. Simple measures can give you peace of mind that your systems are safe, and your clients will know you have their best interests at heart.