Over the past year it’s become apparent to cybersecurity researchers that Texas small businesses are increasingly at risk for cyber attacks. According to a Malwarebytes report, analyzing malware trends for small and medium businesses in Q1 of 2017, “Texas was the state with the highest total of malware incidents detected” and had the second largest increase in ransomware incidents second only to New Mexico.
Texas is home to more than 2.4 million small businesses (with less than 500 employees) with around 354,000 of those employing less than 20. For small businesses of that size a data breach could be devastating and even fatal to the business. But because of the influx of people and new businesses data breaches are going to happen. In 2017 there were 105 data breaches resulting in 2.5 million stolen records and a loss of $277 million to the state in the past 5 years. In 2016 the Internet Crime Complaint Center reported the number of victims in Texas as being 21,441 and a total loss of $77.1 million. That’s insane growth in just a year’s time.
How are cyber criminals doing this?
The ICCC reported 34 different types of cyber crimes. For small business the ones we talk about the most are phishing, corporate data breaches, malware, and ransomware, each with scary victim and loss numbers (and we urge you to check out their report for the full list of cyber crime types).
In 2016 phishing resulted in 19,465 victims and $31.6 million in loss, corporate data breaches led to 3,403 victims and $95.8 million in loss, malware created 2,783 victims and $3.8 million in loss, while ransomware totaled 2,673 victims and $2.4 million in loss. Data like this shows exactly why we are always trying to stress to our clients, and the entire small business community, the importance of training your employees to be cyber aware, to understand the difference between these types of crimes (like phishing and hacking) and to have maintained and monitored backups.
What can you do?
Make sure your technology is where it should be
As small businesses we know it’s not always easy to keep track of all your technology, if updates are being installed, if your antivirus is current, and the other endless tasks that are essential to keeping your business secure. We also know that if it isn’t a core function of your business it can be hard to justify hiring a full IT staff or know how much you should be budgeting in general. But as the cyber landscape changes, a well-rounded IT strategy is necessary. Techvera offers a good look at IT budgeting no matter what size your business is and how wisely invested IT dollars can be a massive asset to your business in all aspects, not just cyber security. And when we use the term “wisely invested” we really mean that. It’s definitely fun to use and have the newest tech, but if it’s not the best choice for your business you just wasted part of your IT budget, and eliminated the benefits of having the right tech. This is why we always tell our clients that we want to be more than their IT vendor, we want to be an IT partner. To work with them to make the right choices for their business. Never underestimate the value of an IT partnership in growing your business.
Invest in cyber insurance
Nationwide defines cyber insurance as a policy that “covers your business’ liability for a data breach involving sensitive customer information, such as social security numbers, credit card numbers, account numbers, driver’s license numbers, and health records.” The Data Center Journal answers a couple of the most common questions that businesses have about cyber insurance policies. This is an important risk management tool for small businesses in an attempt to keep them up and running should a breach occur.
All of this can absolutely be overwhelming, but there are people and companies whose sole mission is to make sure your business is safe and that your technology is working for you! We are one of those companies, so if you have any questions, or want to make sure your security is where it should be, give us a call!