Malicious links disguised as legitimate emails, viruses, and malware hidden behind seemingly safe software, and stolen passwords used to access sensitive information – these are just some of the ways hackers can compromise small businesses. Cyber attacks on small businesses have become increasingly common in recent years, with attackers taking advantage of weak security measures and a lack of resources devoted to protecting against them. Here’s why you want to think about hiring a cyber consultant to save you from the consequences of cyber attacks.
A successful cyber attack can result in a range of different types of data loss. Customer information and financial data can be stolen, leading to significant financial losses. For example, attackers may use stolen credit card numbers to purchase products and services. Intellectual property such as patents and trademarks could also be lost, affecting a business’s bottom line. For example, a malicious hacker could take the source code of a business’s software, reverse engineer it and resell it as their own product.
Businesses, even small ones, can be held liable for the damages caused by a cyber attack and may face legal action from customers or other companies.
As per data protection laws, businesses must take reasonable steps to protect their customer’s confidential data and could be fined for failing to do so. Companies may also face class-action lawsuits, as customers may sue if their personal information is exposed or stolen. To illustrate, say a holistic medical center is hacked and patient records are stolen – the patients could sue for damages.
Businesses may even be sued by other companies if their data has been used to commit fraud or damage the other company’s brand image. Read more about Can You Map Out Bad Data?
Cyber attacks can also have a damaging effect on brand reputation. Customers are likely to become wary of using a business if they know it has been hacked. As such a breach is negative publicity for the company it could cause customers to switch to competitors.
Say a gift shop is hacked and customers’ personal information is stolen. It’s likely that customers will be less inclined to shop at the store, as they may not trust it enough to share not just their payment details, but loved ones’ addresses.
The direct effects of a cyber attack, such as data theft or manipulation, can have a detrimental effect on the day-to-day operations of a small business. If hackers are able to access customer records or financial information, for instance, it could take weeks or even months for businesses to restore and secure this data and get it back up and running.
Businesses may even have to invest in new systems altogether, further halting operations.
Cyber attacks can have a devastating effect on small businesses and the consequences can be long-lasting. Businesses need to consider investing in cyber security measures such as hiring a consultant or implementing appropriate staff training to help protect against these threats.