Sponsored by Bitdefender

By Rieva Lesonsky

You may only hear about big companies like Target and Ashley Madison having their crucial data targeted by hackers, but the truth is cybercrime affects businesses of all sizes. According to a new report by Hewlett Packard and the Ponemon Institute of Cyber Crime, hacking attacks cost the average American firm $15.4 million per year, double the global average of $7.7 million. For small businesses, one cybercrime could be the end of the company—and that threat is all too real. And according to a 2015 Endurance International Group survey 31 percent of small businesses have experienced a cyberattack or an attempted cyberattack.

While you are busy trying to make sales, pay bills and generally keep your business growing, hackers could attack—and you might not even know you’ve been compromised until six months or more down the road. Here are three reasons hackers target entrepreneurs and what you can do to defend your business:

  1. No cybersecurity plan. Although small businesses increasingly view cybersecurity as a major concern, the Endurance survey says only 43 percent of them invested in cybersecurity protections in the past year. A simple cybersecurity plan for yourself and your employees includes:
  • Limit the amount of personal tasks done on work computers and laptops. Don’t let employees install unauthorized software or plug unauthorized devices into office computers, such as MP3 players, smartphones or USB keys. You never know where malware may rear its ugly head.
  • Initiate a well-organized and secure password strategy.
  • Install security software such as Bitdefender GravityZone Business Security to make sure your business is protected against the latest security threats.
  • Educate all employees on data security policies and check out the FCC’s Cybersecurity for Small Business
  1. Ignorance. Most small business owners are too busy to keep up on the latest cybersecurity threats. If that’s you, put your company in the hands of a cloud-based security system that does. You want your solution provider to react quickly to a threat and change access when there’s a potential attack on the horizon. When an employee quits, you may think to change the door locks, but do you also immediately change your passwords and access? Cloud security solutions have full-time personnel dedicated to keeping your information secure, so you can concentrate on running your business.
  1. Mobile devices. Hackers will try to infiltrate your critical data any way and anywhere they can, including on mobile devices. Having the latest mobile security software, web browsers and operating systems is the best defense against viruses, malware and other online threats. Employees who use their personal smartphones for work should review what data those apps can access before they download them, and make sure never to access company data when working on an unsecured network. Finally, avoid storing confidential or otherwise sensitive information—such as passwords, bank account numbers or credit card number—on any mobile device.