Major corporations have been making headlines recently as victims of high-profile security breaches, but it’s actually small to medium-sized businesses that suffer the majority of attacks.
Small businesses constitute 70 percent of all data breaches, and cyber-crime is particularly damaging in these instances because each incident is so expensive. Large companies have the luxury of hiring expensive legal teams that can negotiate their financial deals. This is why corporations typically end up paying around $45 in fees and penalties for each credit card stolen, while small retailers pay about $108 per stolen card.
This unforeseen cost is a huge blow to most small businesses, and one that they often can’t recover from. In fact, 60 percent of small businesses affected by data theft are forced to close down as a direct result of the breach.
Small companies make attractive targets for hackers because they often don’t employ the most up-to-date security software or system monitors. Owners and employees frequently send personal messages on computers where financial transactions are processed, and many times the passwords used to access the systems are overly simple and easy for cyber-criminals to steal.
“It’s an economic calculation for a small merchant — is it more expensive to secure the network, or pay for the damages that may result if not?” Chief executive of the Electronic Transactions Association, Jason Oxman told the LA Times. “But many don’t consider the possible reputational harm. If you’re a small business, you might not be able to withstand the drop in business that might result from a breach.”
If you own a small business, protect yourself and your customers by installing a point of sale and inventory system that you can trust to keep data secure. Also make sure that your employees create network passwords that are complex and difficult to guess. Finally, conduct system scans frequently.