Cyber-crime is on the rise, and it is something that is becoming an issue of note. There is a lot of complacency among small business owners when it comes to cyber-attacks. It's just not large companies that hackers are targeting. In fact, 43% of cyber-attacks target small businesses. Today, we wanted to share the story of a client of ours named Tom to illustrate the damage they can cause.
Tom was a new business. He had spent months slowly building up his e-mail list. While he was building his list, he didn't do much e-mail marketing. Tom planned to wait for a while before hitting people too soon with marketing message. A smart move, but it left him vulnerable to this type of attack.
One day, Tom was going through his e-mail and came upon an innocuous e-mail from a company with which he did business. What he didn't notice was the sent from' address was not the same' as the company with which he does business. He was busy, it wasn't top of mind. He clicked the link.
Nothing happened at first. A few days later, he was hit by a barrage of unsubscribes from that list he had been so carefully building. He didn't get it until he saw that they all had been sent spam mail. Tom's site was blacklisted, and his e-mail service dropped him. All that work was just lost with one scam. Tom was the victim of a cyber-attack.
It took Tom several months to recover. He had to prove to his hosting service that he wasn't responsible. That was no easy task. In their mind, he was. He was responsible for the site's security, and due to what they viewed as his lax security protocols, he violated their policies. The same was true for the e-mail service provider. He eventually got it sorted out, but it cost him both time and money, consequences of the cyber-attack that went far deeper than just changing his username and password.
Verizon published a report that showed that 43% of all cyber-attacks target small to medium-sized businesses, and the number keeps rising. Why? Well, according to a recent study released by Keeper Security, two-thirds of small to medium-sized business owners do not personally feel threatened by the possibility of cyber-attacks. This makes them easy targets since 60% do not have a plan to prevent attacks from happening. This is alarming as it has been reported that 60% of small businesses that suffer a cyber-attack go out of business within 6 months of the attack. Luckily, Tom wasn't one of them, but from Tom's example, you can see how that might happen.
There are several security steps to take, but at the very least, contact your insurance broker to get some cyber-insurance. By going through this process, you will learn what tools they fee are most effective for you and will help you lower your rates. Also, be aware of signs for of phishing attacks and things of the sort. But more than anything, be smart. Do what you can to avoid being a case like Tom, which you'll pay for later on.
Brian Cairns, CEO of Prostrategix Consulting. Over 25 years of business experience as a corporate executive, entrepreneur, and small business owner. For more information, please visit my LinkedIn profile
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