10 Ways Cybercrime Can Ruin Your Business


By Diane Tait

Image courtesy of Pixabay
Every month it seems you read about another high-profile business that has been hacked by cybercriminals.  Whether it involves the theft of data from a big box store, or from one of the credit reporting bureaus that store all our data, these breaches affect all of us.  What most business owners don’t realize is that they are living on borrowed time if they don’t take the time to address this issue and secure their digital domain soon.  To help you assess how well-prepared your business is to deal with cybercrime, I have come up with 10 ways cybercrime can ruin your business.

      1.      Path of Least Resistance If hackers can breach the security of major corporations, what makes you think they can’t crack your system?  Many small business owners have been guilty of sticking their heads in the sand when it comes to taking digital security seriously.  While they realize cybercrime is a growing menace, many have done little to secure their digital assets since they think they’re too small of a fish to bother with.  The opposite is true, since it’s much easier to hack a small business than it is to take on a multinational corporation. The only thing that tends to shake this complacent attitude is to get hacked, by which time it is too late.

Image courtesy of Pixabay
      2     Is Your Server a Ticking Time Bomb? – Ask yourself this question, “When was the last time you had an IT professional perform a security check on your computer system?  When was the last time you sat down with your employees to show them what they need to know about corporate cyber security? If the answer to either of these questions was “Never” or “Years ago,” it’s high time you took the mater of cybersecurity seriously.  It was reported in 2017 that the average cost of a data breach to an individual US business was anywhere from $117,000 to ?1.3 million depending on the size of the business.  Even at the lower end of the scale, how many small businesses in this country can afford a $117,000 hit?  Could yours? 

      3.      Loss of Data Could Scuttle Your Business – Most businesses today live in a wired world.  Everything from customer records and financial data, to bookkeeping and payroll are handled electronically.  This means if your data is corrupted or erased, you could quickly find yourself out of business.  Even if you manage to right the ship and sail on, how much would a disruption to your business cost you in terms of income lost?

      4.      Client Data Dilemma– Once your system is breached, hackers are not only free to disrupt your business and rifle your records, they can also run roughshod over stored client data as well.  Every piece of pertinent data stored on your computers, including social security numbers, passwords, bank account numbers and credit card numbers can easily be pilfered.  What’s even worse is if client data is stolen from your computers, you could be subject to fines and even lawsuits.  In addition, you may be required by the court to conduct an expensive electronic forensic investigation to determine exactly what was taken from your system should a breach occur.

      5.      Your Personal Info for Sale – One way in which cybercriminals turn clicks into cash is by selling data to third parties.  Much of this illicit trade is conducted on the Dark Web, which is an underground computer network used by spies and criminals to conduct business away from prying eyes. 

Image courtesy of Pixabay
      6.      Ransomware – Another way that hackers can put the bite on your business is to install ransomware that locks you out of your system.  The way ransomware works is the data on your computer or server is encrypted.  Typically, you find out about this when you boot up your computer only to find a message informing you that you’ve been hacked. The hackers then demand ransom to decrypt your data.  If you don’t cough up payment in a certain amount of time, they threaten to erase all the data.  The problem is, even if you do pay, there is no guarantee that your data will be released.  The hackers could erase it anyway.

When it comes to ransomware, don’t expect the FBI to come to your rescue.  In 2016 when a police department in Georgia had its servers succumb to ransomware, the police chief called the FBI to ask what he should do.  The feds told him to pay the ransom.  Since hacking is an international crime, even the FBI finds it impossible to locate, let alone prosecute this kind of crime.

      7.      Loss of Customer Confidence – Even if you pay the piper by coughing up a ransom and have your data released, that doesn’t mean your business can’t be harmed.  Should any of your employees blab to friends that your business was hacked or held hostage, this information could be enough to destroy customer confidence.  Loss of customer confidence can quickly make it difficult for your business to acquire new customers or even hold onto the ones you currently have. 

Image courtesy of Pixabay
      8.      Competitors can Poison the Well – It’s all too easy today to submit an anonymous complaint online or clone a business’ web property.  Should an underhanded competitor wish to harm your business, it’s as easy as submitting a fake review panning the quality of your services or products.  More enterprising competitors have been known to do such things as create a carbon copy of your site with their phone number that redirects prospects from your business to theirs, to cloning your social sites which they can then fill with false and misleading information about your business.

      9.      Potential for Litigation – Even if you are entirely innocent of any wrongdoing, once cybercriminals have breached your data, you could wind up spending tons of time and money to defend yourself in court.  Unless you have time and money to burn, don’t wind up being blindsided some time soon should your company get hacked.

      10.  Inside Job – Here’s another type of crime that most business owners are ill-equipped to defend against: the inside job.  I don’t care how great of a boss you are or how wonderful of an environment you set up for your employees, sooner or later you will wind up letting an employee go.  When that happens, don’t be surprised if a disgruntled employee decides to strike back by attacking your digital assets.  In the past, employees have been known to strike back by doing all kinds of digital mayhem to their former employer.  In today’s wired world, it is all too easy to learn how to hack a computer.  There are many online forums that can teach or sell hacking tools designed to breach all but the best-defended computer systems.

If you’re really serious about protecting your business from cybercrime, there are cyber liability policies available to help you weather the storm should your company be targeted by cybercriminals.  Not only can they cover losses caused by damage or theft of your electronic data, they also cover your client’s data as well.  Additionally, these policies can be set up to help offset the cost incurred to notify clients and defend your business from lawsuits that can arise should your system be breached. 

Diane Tait owns and operates A&B Insurance.  To find out more about how you can protect your business from cybercrime, go to her site or fill out the form at right.

Comments

  1. Don't wait until it's too late to take a bite out of cybercrime.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I have written about cybercrime and criminals many times. It is the scourge of our times. This article is full of great advice. Heed the signs and stay safe.

    ReplyDelete

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