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Ask SCORE: How Can I Protect My Business from a Cyber Attack?
by Charlie Morris
January 3, 2023
Diverse cybernetics engineers upgrading processing system application

Cybersecurity is an often-overlooked aspect of small business. Perhaps that’s because small business owners think their businesses are immune to a hack. Entrepreneurs have heard about countless data breaches, but they think that that can only happen to large companies like Equifax, Yahoo, and Target.

As much as we like to think that cyberattacks won’t happen to us, any business in the digital realm is susceptible to a cyberattack. In fact, according to the 2018 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report, 58 percent of cyberattack victims are small businesses.

More startling than that statistic is that once hit with a data breach, ransomware, or another type of cyberattack, 60 percent of businesses never open their doors again. The costs of recovering from a cyberattack can be astronomical. According to Cybersecurity Ventures, cybercrimes will cost the world $6 trillion by 2021 – double the $3 trillion spent in 2015.

Do you still think that cybersecurity is something you can ignore?

Sometimes people postpone cybersecurity implementation because they worry that implementing effective Internet security is onerous or costly. In other cases, business owners may not understand what cybersecurity entails. In many cases, it means adding a layer of protection for transactions and interactions occurring over the Internet and ensuring your data is backed up. Think of it like insurance for your computer, payroll system, and any other online operating system integral to your business.

As far as cost, malware protection, for instance, is far less expensive than the cost of recovering countless corrupted files or recouping lost trust after the dissemination of sensitive information such as customers’ credit card numbers.

My career background for nearly 40 years has been as a software engineer, architect, and Chief Technology Officer. Thankfully though, business owners do not need to be software developers to protect their online presence from hackers.

My approach to Internet security is a risk versus benefit balance. You must run your business. Doing so means relying on systems and connecting to the Internet. Taking a “People, Process, Technology” approach can combat cyber security threats. For example, many attacks start when employees open innocent-looking emails. Training employees on what to look for can avert disasters. Employers can also put processes in place such as requiring that users create strong passwords and use multi-factor authentication when accessing Websites for banks, vendors, etc. Finally, technologies like malware detection, password managers, and automated backups are available to help prevent attacks and mitigate the result should one occur. I have implemented such approaches professionally and at home. Something similar may work for your business.

About the author
Charlie Morris
Charlie Morris is a certified mentor with SCORE Bucks County and has held the Technology and Marketing Committee chair position for the chapter since January 2018. He worked in the technology industry as a software developer and leader focusing on commercial software products for 38 years. He served the last 20 years as Chief Technology Officer in several companies.
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