Why small business owners (and their marketers) should be taking their cyber security very seriously.

Already in 2020, there has been a serious cyber-attack on currency business, Travelex, which has seen many thousands of individuals affected (just being resolved at time of writing).  2019 had seen some unprecedented attacks, including on systems that had previously been thought to be impenetrable, such as Apple’s iOS operating system.

These headline grabbing incidents are always to do with large businesses or government departments and are very rarely about smaller businesses.  But reports suggest that 43% of cyber-attacks are directed at small business, they just tend not to hit the headlines, so we are far less aware that they are happening.

Are you complacent about cyber security?

And it’s easy to be complacent about cyber security as a small or medium sized business.  Who would want to hack us – we’re not big enough to bother with?  Why would they?  Answer: just because they can.  Or perhaps to ‘teach you a lesson’ because you made it so easy.  And who can guarantee that an apparently innocent email won’t contain an attachment with a virus that plays havoc with your systems or – worse – contains ransomware that brings you to a halt?  A cynical viewpoint?  Probably.  A realistic one? Definitely. 

Arguably, a cyber-attack can have more devasting consequences on a smaller business than a large one.  Travelex, for example, is managing to continue trading through its physical outlets even while all its IT systems are down but how many smaller businesses would have that option?

What is the potential impact of a cyber-attack?

A cyber-attack will seriously hit your wallet, both in terms of lost business and potentially a very large fine if you are found to be negligent, but it will also affect something even more valuable than that – something almost priceless to any business:  your reputation.  A cyber-attack can seriously damage the trust that existing clients have in you and damage your reputation enough to put off potential customers too. 

Trust is something we already seem to be struggling with.  After high-profile incidents like the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica incident and others, we have lost our faith in brands and in corporate business. This is partly why we have seen such growth in individual to individual engagements, from following influencers’ social media to increased sales on eBay and the like.  We’re just not sure that we trust business anymore.

So, as a smaller business, can you afford not to be thinking seriously about your cyber security?  As business owners and marketers, who will be expected to rebuild your business and your reputation if the worst really does happen? Just don’t risk it – be prepared.

Where can you get advice on cyber-security?

For advice and training on cyber-security, talk to an experienced IT business like NetPrimates. They are running a series of free seminars, too, to help you plan. Find more details here.

In any business, cyber-security should form part of your business risk assessment and continuity planning.  If you’d like some tips on how to approach this, try this blog.