Small Business Cyber Security: What do I Need to Know?

Small Business Cyber Security: What do I Need to Know?

If you're interested in a cyber security career, you probably imagine working for a large company's IT department. You might not know that small businesses need cyber security experts as much as any major company. Small businesses are among the most frequent victims of cybercrime, especially with the rise of ransomware. If you are looking into a cyber security career, small businesses might be a major part of it. Here are some things you need to know about small business cyber security.

Small Businesses are Frequently Targeted by Hackers

The vast majority of small business owners think that they are at no risk of cyber-attacks. In a recent survey of small business owners, 87% of respondents said they did not feel at risk.

In fact, a 2016 report revealed that half of small businesses in the United States have been breached by hackers in some form. That's 14 million small businesses in total that have been hacked!

If anyone thinks their small business isn't a target for hackers, it's essential to think again. Small businesses are a prime target for cyber criminals precisely because so many are vulnerable to attack, whether it's because their owners don't know the real risk, or because they feel they can't afford quality cyber security.

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Cyber-Attacks can be Worse for Small Businesses than Big Corporations

Although large-scale attacks on big corporations tend to get the biggest headlines, it can be easier for hackers to profit from targeting small businesses. Because small business owners often can't afford dedicated IT departments, and possess only a small number of workplace computers, one virus can cripple a small business.

That's why ransomware that targets small businesses is on the rise. Ransomware is malware that locks a computer and prevents the owner from accessing it until they make a payment to the hacker. Ransomware attacks on large corporations are more difficult because they have to infect large computer systems. But a small business owner who keeps crucial files on one computer, and has no cyber security software (31% of small business owners have no cyber security software of any kind) is easy to target for ransom.

Criminals using ransomware have been making a fortune stealing from small business owners. According to Fast Company, half of ransomware payments made by businesses amount to more than $10,000, and 20% are more than $40,000. For a large business, that might be an easy write off. For a small business, that might be a crucial chunk of revenue. That's why up to 60% of small businesses that are hit by a cyber attack go out of business within six months.

There are Plenty of Tools for Small Business Owners to Implement a Cyber Security Plan

You might be surprised at how many resources exist for small business owners who want to set up a cyber security plan. For example, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has a site dedicated to helping small business owners create a custom cyber security plan for their company. Having even a basic suite of cyber security software (such as anti-virus, anti-malware, firewalls, data encryption, and spam filters) can greatly increase a business's chances of staying safe from cyber-attacks.

There is a Widespread Need for Small Business Cyber Security Experts

Hackers target small businesses because so many of them are unprepared for attacks. But it doesn't have to be this way. A small business that can't afford a full-time IT department could still benefit from hiring at least one dedicated cybersecurity expert. Even hiring one on a freelance basis to go over some of the most common cyber security risk factors with company staff can go a long way to keeping more small businesses safe.

In an age when cyber-attacks are more common and sophisticated than ever, there is also a massive need for cyber security experts. Cyber security is a rapidly growing field with terrific career prospects. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of cyber security specialist jobs is expected to grow by 18% by 2024, a rate much faster than average.

Small Business Cyber Security: What do I Need to Know?

Could you see yourself working to help protect small businesses from hackers? To do so you’ll need to earn a Bachelor of Science Degree in Computer and Information Science with a Major in Cyber and Network Security. ECPI University offers this degree program at an accelerated rate, helping students graduate faster and start working sooner. For more information on this exciting degree program, connect with a friendly ECPI University admissions advisor.

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