If some in the small business community thought to themselves, “better them than us,” after hearing that hackers had breached mega chains Target, Neiman Marcus and (possibly) Michaels, their bliss was short-lived. Reports surfaced last week that the cyber-intruders accessed Targets’ systems by first hacking one of their (comparatively) small regional contractors, Fazio Mechanical Services.
Fazio, though, is in good company: a list of the 91 breaches reported in the first 43 days of 2014 compiled by the Identity Theft Resource Center shows not just trusted brands – Home Depot, Walgreens, TD Bank – but a variety of small medical offices and other small businesses whose owners perhaps never thought they’d be targets, too.
That is the crux of the problem facing America’s small businesses and consumers: they may not think they’ll be targets of hackers looking for big scores… but all of them probably will be. It’s just too easy and too lucrative for hackers to gather and utilize people’s personal information for anyone to be safe – including small enterprises with databases that seem at first blush to be of limited utility.
Reality check: hackers will always go after the weakest link. If they determine that the big guys have toughened up, they’re just going to go after easier targets, like small businesses.
So what is a small business owner to do? Instead of throwing up your hands and assuming you can’t afford the technology that big companies use, make the 3 Ms your mantra: Minimize, Monitor and Manage. Make yourself a harder target and know what to do when you become one anyway.
Minimize Your Risk of Exposure
The most important step you can take is to be proactive about your own security, rather than waiting until it’s breached. Some specific steps include:
Monitor Your Security
Don’t rely on a system you set up last year to work next year. On an ongoing basis, make sure that you: