Small businesses should not be naive when it comes to cybercrime, as this could be a very costly mistake. Although many people think of small businesses as unlikely targets for cyber attacks, this is sadly not true, and thousands of SMEs are victims of cybercrime each year.
Small firms often have less robust security systems than big companies and are therefore more vulnerable to attack, which is why business owners should take data protection and security very seriously and devote as many resources as they are able to it. The impacts of a security breach are far-reaching and can cripple small businesses. Experts from Syntax IT Support London outline the biggest risks.
Lost or damaged data
A cyber attack could mean the damage or loss of your business data, which is a serious concern for a number of reasons. Some of this data, if not effectively backed up, is likely to play a vital role in business operations, which could mean that you are unable to continue running your company as normal until you are able to recreate these files. Even the loss of non-essential data can still be very costly to small businesses, as your team must begin the time-consuming process of starting from scratch and having to source information all over again.
Damage to your reputation
The professional reputation of your business could also take a serious hit as a result of a cyber attack. If a data leak occurs, the trust customers and clients had for you can rapidly deteriorate, potentially leading to a loss of sales and a steep decline in profits. Potential customers may be put off from coming to you in future and the existing relationships you have with partners and investors may erode, which means the attack could have a serious long-term impact on your business.
Loss of income
Depending on the severity of the attack, your business may have to shut down for a period of time, resulting in a loss of income. Whether the closure lasts for a day or a month, this disruption will mean a loss of earnings as well as customers, which can put small businesses in a very vulnerable position.
As well as a loss of income, you may unfortunately also incur additional expenses in order to get your business back to full functionality. Suffering a cyber breach often means repairing or replacing affected IT systems, networks and devices which can be very costly.
A cyber attack may result in personal data you hold becoming compromised, which is in violation of data protection and privacy laws. If personal data relating to your customers or employees is leaked, you may therefore face fines and regulatory sanctions due to your failure to comply. The party the data belongs to may also sue your firm for your failure to protect its data, causing further financial loss.
Ransomware is a type of malware that threatens to publish or block access to an individual’s or organisation’s data unless a ransom is paid. If you fall victim to this type of cyber attack you should always seek advice from professionals before making a decision about whether or not to pay the ransom, but ultimately you may decide that it is in the best interests of your business to do so. This would, of course, incur an extra cost and could have a significant financial impact on your business.
All of the risks outlined above are serious and very real impacts that cyber attacks have had on small businesses. To keep your own business safe and avoid such extreme consequences, it is vital that you stop making excuses and begin to prioritise cybersecurity and safety within your own business today.