Very small businesses can’t afford IT security incident; should act now

Very small businesses (VSBs) are the easy targets of cybercriminals since they believe many VSBs aren’t fully protected and are thus an easy target for a quick pay-day.

VSBs are the easy targets because they lack the budget and have low levels of staff sophistication on a topic like security.

According to IDC estimates, there are approximately 80 million businesses worldwide that operate with fewer than 10 employees. The vast majority of these VSBs do not have the resources to building their IT networks or performing other professional tasks. Despite these limitations, VSBs will process millions, if not billions, of dollars in 2013.

Considering the growing landscape of challenges, including cybercrimes, VSBs, though small in size, are liable to perform some key tasks like their larger business counterparts. One of them includes the need to protect important data – such as customer data and their financial information – while banking online and processing customer orders.

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According to 2013 Global Corporate IT Security Risks survey, the worldwide average cost of a data breach for a small or medium sized business can be as high as $36,000 USD. This amount includes the average amount of lost business opportunities, as well as costs to hire an external IT expert to remediate the immediate problem, and possibly purchase new equipment.

For a very small business, a 5-digit cost to respond to a cybersecurity incident can be a crushing blow. Beyond the immediate costs, a security breach can also create a more long-term and intangible effect – the loss of your customers’ trust, Kaspersky Lab said.

For example, VSBs that offer services involving sensitive information, such as tax records found in small financial services businesses, the customer could potentially sue the business.

Many businesses are also required by law to report certain types of data breaches. If their security practices are deemed to be below the minimum requirements set by industry regulations, the business could face steep fines.

To fight against these, VSBs should select SMB-specific software or select vendors that are well-known for providing intuitive, comprehensive security software in order to avoid the trap of paying too much for something they will struggle to use, Kaspersky said.

Data encryption is vital for any company that processes and stores the payment information of customers, and is often required by law. If encrypted data is stolen or lost, there is a good chance the criminals will never be able to harvest the stolen data, leaving your customers protected.

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