Small businesses a large focus of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month

While large businesses such as Target, The Home Depot, and Jimmy John’s dominate headlines because of their recent massive data breaches, small businesses appear to believe that they are flying under hackers’ radars.

However, new information is showing that hackers are aggressively trying to steal valuable data from small businesses across the United States.

Receivables management company Funding Gates compiled information showing the enormity of the cyber attack threat facing small businesses, including: 

  • A Symantec study titled the Internet Security Threat Report revealed that 552 million customer identities were stolen from small businesses in 2013, representing a 493-percent increase from 2012.
  • A survey from the National Small Business Association showed that nearly half of all small businesses reported being targeted in a cyber attack. The average cost incurred by victims in these attacks was $8,699.48.
  • A Vercode study revealed that while 72 percent of known hacker breaches in 2011 affected businesses with fewer than 100 employees, 50 percent of small businesses believed they were too small to warrant hackers’ attention.

October's National Cybersecurity Awareness Month teaching small businesses to stay protected

October marks the 11th National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, and Oct. 20-24 is dedicated to raising awareness of cybersecurity threats among small and medium-sized businesses. 

"While bigger businesses can often dedicate greater resources towards cybersecurity, small and medium-sized businesses and entrepreneurs face the same cybersecurity challenges and threats with limited resources, capacity, and personnel," the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said on its website

To help small businesses ward off cybersecurity threats, the DHS provided several informative resources on on its Stop.Think.Connect. page.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has also previously released a tip sheet to help small businesses owners protect themselves and their customers from malicious hackers. More detailed descriptions of each of the FCC's tips can be viewed by visiting the tip sheet, but the 10 tips are:

  1. Train employees in security principles
  2. Protect information, computers, and networks from cyber attacks
  3. Provide firewall security for your Internet connection
  4. Create a mobile device action plan
  5. Make backup copies of important business data and information
  6. Control physical access to your computers and create user accounts for each employee
  7. Secure your Wi-Fi networks
  8. Employ best practices on payment cards
  9. Limit employee access to data and information, limit authority to install software
  10. Passwords and authentication

Small businesses can also try out the FCC Small Biz Cyber Planner 2.0, which enables them to create customized cybersecurity plans.