Common cyber attacks have names that sound like they were lifted from action flicks. From man-in-the-middle attacks to zero-day exploits, cybercriminals employ numerous tactics to gain access to your data. When successful, you may pay a steep price.

You may not have fancy gadgets like James Bond, but you don’t need any. By being proactive, you can help thwart cybercriminals in their tracks.

Loss of business a top concern

Cyber attacks cost small business in a number of ways. Perhaps the most significant is the loss of business while you are down and recovering from the incident. Think about how much income your business brings in daily, and then consider the total cost if your business is down for an extended period like a week … or even a month.
Unfortunately, during the time when your business is down, your revenue may grind to a halt — but your expenses will continue to go up. You’ll need to hire incident response professionals including technical people to figure out what happened and rebuild your system, as well as legal counsel to ensure that you comply with breach reporting laws. You may also have to purchase new IT equipment because your technical people might determine that some of your equipment has been damaged in the attack or is too obsolete to operate securely.

Your reputation is at stake

There is also reputational damage. Part of complying with breach laws is having to notify your customers that their personal identifying information was part of a breach. Whether it’s true or not, most customers will assume that you were not storing their data securely. This can reduce your credibility and impact repeat business and referrals.

The potential for legal action should also be considered. While your business is down and you’re not getting work done, deadlines imposed by contracts could be missed. This might result in breach of contract, and you could be held liable for the damage caused or cost incurred by your customers. Furthermore, in some cases, the corporation and corporate officers have been personally sued for negligently failing to provide proper cyber security.

Other impacts to consider could include an increase in insurance premiums, a higher cost of credit if you missed payments due to the incident, and the loss of intellectual property.

Help prevent or mitigate damages

Despite the fact that cyber attacks are on the rise and criminals are turning to increasingly sophisticated means to obtain your data, it’s not a foregone conclusion that you’ll be a victim. With a little guidance from experts, proactive small business owners can employ measures designed to prevent or mitigate any damages that do occur.

Your cyber security will never be perfect but implementing a robust defense will make you a much harder target. Often, that’s enough to avoid being a victim.