Why Hackers Target Small & Home-Based Businesses

When it comes to data breaches, some small and home-based business owners believe their operations will fly under the radar. Without the money or trade secrets of larger companies, they might look less attractive to hackers wanting to steal personal data or funds.

While this assumption might once have been true, the current situation is much different. Although hacks involving large corporations receive the greatest amount of media attention, Verizon’s 2018 Data Breach Investigation Report found that small businesses make up 58 percent of malware victims.

Additionally, the Ponemon Institute’s 2017 State of Cybersecurity in Small & Medium-Sized Businesses report found that attacks targeting these entities increased from 55 percent in 2016 to 61 percent in 2017. Here are some reasons why hackers go after small businesses.

Less Security

Your network security strategy may contain far more vulnerabilities than you realize. The following issues could make you a prime target, especially if you have multiple clients:

  • Software that’s not up-to-date
  • Pirated programs
  • Lack of uniformity with operating systems
  • Using cloud-based computing
  • Minimal encryption
  • No IT team looking out for threats

As such, cracking your business network can be an easy task for hackers that also brings an easy reward.

No IT Team

Small and home-based businesses rarely have a dedicated in-house IT professional, let alone a full team with a cybersecurity specialist. Instead, many smaller entities rely solely upon an antivirus program.

Adding fuel to the fire, they may not pay attention to software upgrades or require employees to undergo PCI compliance training.

On a more technical level, with no one monitoring your network, you likely won’t know an outside party has gotten through until it’s too late.

Unfamiliar with Cybersecurity Best Practices

Along with dedicated IT teams enforcing these practices in larger corporations, education to spot and respond to threats is often part of employee training, especially when handling customers’ financial information.

For smaller businesses, this approach can be practically absent. Employees are often left to their own devices in terms of responding to social engineering or avoiding certain websites that could download malware onto a company computer.

As such, small businesses become an easy target for spear phishing attacks: A third party poses as someone in the company, doing their research on your website and social media channels to put together an authentic-looking profile before sending out an email. Unless the employee receiving the email checks the address first, they could potentially give away key financial or informational details that put you and your customer base in jeopardy.

Beyond emails, a hacker who spear phishes may take an old-school approach, posing as a company employee on the phone to obtain network credentials. As they appear to be a legitimate user, their presence becomes difficult to track down.

Your Data is Valuable

Small and home-based business owners might think a small, local client base does not have the same value or appeal as a larger corporation. Despite what you have in funds, credit card numbers and customer information can be valuable to someone who wants to steal financial or personal details for their own monetary gain or to sell on the dark web.

While your company might feel small, your customers and clients come first. Think about how they would react – and the lawsuits that could follow – if an outside party were to obtain information they expected to be kept secure.

Banks Treat You Like Any Other Business

Banks often treat commercial accounts differently from personal ones. Assuming a businessowner has safeguards in place to prevent hackers from accessing and stealing company funds, money stolen from a business account is rarely replenished. On the other hand, an individual whose personal account is breached will likely have their funds replaced.

Insurance carriers offering data breach coverage expect you to have a secure network and cybersecurity plan. To discuss the steps necessary to keep information protected or to explore your policy options, contact us today.