How to protect your small business from cyber attacks

October 13, 2016

Target. Anthem. JPMorgan Chase. Big data breaches make headlines. But it’s actually small businesses that face the biggest threats from hackers. Nine out of ten data breaches involve small businesses, according to Trustwave SpiderLabs, and more than 40% of small businesses have suffered a cyber-attack, according to the 2015 National Small Business Association year-end report. These attacks typically cost more than $7,000. And the threat is growing: data breaches increased 55% in 2014, according to the 2015 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report.

What makes small businesses vulnerable to attack? Why would a hacker go after your small pool of data when there are much bigger targets out there? First of all, of course, many small businesses are less protected than major corporations. And increasingly, hackers are finding that they can combine the data from multiple small businesses to create a rich prize, according to the National CyberSecurity Institute.

Security threats are everywhere. We all use our mobile devices more and more, for more and more functions—which makes it easier for hackers to attack these devices with malware. And the threats are only going to grow as every aspect of our lives becomes more connected. The ‘internet of things’ will increase the threat of cyber-attack, according to the National CyberSecurity Institute, because it will be relatively easy to hack internet-connected devices. In the next few years, anything from a toy to a watch, a piece of clothing, even a dog collar or a refrigerator could be a point of vulnerability for hackers.

Unfortunately, many small business owners feel they’re not prepared to deal with a cyber-attack. Overall, about 43% of business owners say their business is only slightly prepared, or not at all prepared, to deal with an attack, according to a recent Babson College survey of business owners.

How prepared do you feel? How vulnerable is your business to hackers and other bad actors? If you use Clover Security, you’ve got state-of-the-art technology on your side. Clover’s system uses the latest end-to-end encryption and tokenization technology to protect your data–and your customers’ data.

End-to-end encryption helps protect data while it’s on the way to being authorized. Customer credit card data is vulnerable during the time it’s being transmitted from your POS terminal to a server for processing. Some encryption systems focus on the ‘tunnel’ through which data moves, leaving it vulnerable at the split-second moments when it transfers from one system to the next. End-to-end encryption scrambles the data itself, so it’s better at protecting the data throughout its journey from place to place.

Tokenization is another advanced cybersecurity technique. Customer credit card numbers are replaced with randomly generated numbers, so the actual data isn’t stored in your system at all. Even if hackers did break into your system, your customers’ sensitive information wouldn’t be at risk.

When a large corporation gets hacked, its reputation does take a hit. But the difficulty of changing banks, or the convenience of one-stop shopping at a big box retailer, may mean customers stay loyal anyway. For a small business, the damage could go deeper. Small businesses are highly vulnerable to cyber-attacks, and the cost of suffering one could go beyond the immediate hit to the bottom line. Why not use the best possible technology to protect your business and your customers’ peace of mind?

October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month. Throughout the month the Clover Blog will feature articles to help you protect your business and your customers from internet fraud, theft, or attack.

[image: Data Security by Blogtrepreneur on flickr]

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