Hacking Is A Big Problem For Small Businesses

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When a giant electronics corporation like Sony gets hacked, it makes news for weeks. When a small firm gets hacked, it might make the local papers for a day.

It’s an understandable thing, but it does make it easy to ignore a major problem. Small businesses might be tempted to see only the largest, most visible companies as targets of hacking. Unfortunately for all of us, that’s certainly not the case any longer.

The Wall Street Journal has a smart report on this phenomenon, which every small business needs to stay up-to-date on:

Hacking at small businesses “is a prolific problem,” says Dean Kinsman, a special agent in the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s cyber division, which has more than 400 active investigations into these crimes. “It’s going to get much worse before it gets better.”

In the time it takes to break into a major company like Citigroup Inc., a hacker could steal data from dozens of small businesses and not get detected, says Bryce Case Jr., a former hacker who broke into several government and corporate websites a decade ago and now runs an online message board for hackers called Digital Gangster. Now that small companies use computers, “the juice has become worth the squeeze,” he says. “Even a pizza place has addresses, names and credit-card information.”

Small businesses tend to not have the technological capabilities or know-how to discover they’ve been hacked, at least immediately, and lack the resources to respond. Sony may have a dedicated team looking into security flaws, but your average small business has maybe a handful of tech people dealing with insurmountable odds.

The best move your business can make to fight hackers is to maintain tight security, avoid placing all your sensitive data into a single area and constantly changing passwords. The truly dedicated, talented hackers will likely be able to overcome even this, but they’re also likely to move on to easier targets if you put up any kind of a fight. In this not-so new, increasingly electronic world, any company that sticks its head in the sand risks compromising sensitive information about its employees and customers.

I don’t think that’s an acceptable outcome, and I suspect you probably don’t either. How do you protect your data?

Photo credit to rusek at http://www.sxc.hu/photo/232080

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