Small businesses and self-employed people are big targets for hackers, and the financial implications can be crippling. Gone are the days of thinking “It’ll never happen to us”.
A total of 61% of all data breaches this year occurred in businesses with fewer than 1,000 employees, according to the Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report. Estimates vary on how much a breach truly costs, but it can often be millions of pounds.
What’s more, new European regulation aimed at protecting personal data (GDPR) comes into force next year, and could result in fines of between 2% and 4% of annual turnover, or €20m (£18m), whichever is greater. Not only have hacks increased in frequency, but the impact on SMEs is getting much bigger.
But where do you begin? Many SMEs feel that being as secure as a big business is impossible. Corporations have large budgets, chief security officers and entire teams dedicated to cybersecurity. This perception stems from the impression that hacks are vastly complicated, and rely on a tireless horde of highly skilled attackers. Most hacks aren’t like that. The majority depend on poor passwords and a lack of awareness of what a hacker actually needs to compromise your systems – a simple phishing email or a leaked password and they’re in. It’s that simple.
Educating yourself and your staff is the only solution. Hackers always look for soft targets, so start with the basics.
1 Get a strong password
A total of 80% of hacking-related breaches use either stolen passwords and/or weak or guessable passwords. Getting a strong password is the bare minimum. What’s more, it’s easier than you think. A lot of people don’t know that you can use spaces in your passwords, for example: “horse mug table” is much a much better password than “Horse123”. Test out how long yours would currently take for your password to be hacked here: https://howsecureismypassword.net/
2 Then make your password unique
Having a single strong password doesn’t count for much if that password then gets leaked. We’ve seen massive, trusted companies like LinkedIn and Yahoo leak millions of passwords over the last few years, which opens the door to wide-ranging cyber attacks. Password managers like LastPass and OnePassword help you generate and keep track of unique and strong passwords.