Small Businesses are Prime Targets for Hackers

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Cybersecurity is an issue that affects any and all businesses. A breach can cost a small business anywhere from 50,000 to 150,000 dollars to recover from.

We joined in on the discussion at BSC’s 2018 Cybercon and learned just how serious these threats are, especially for a mom and pop shop.

Our region’s first major cyber security conference was in action at Bismarck State College today. One of the major topics of discussion is how businesses, particularly smaller businesses can protect themselves against cyber threats.

Right now, 90 percent of small businesses don’t use any form of data protection for their company and customer information.

Chief Information Officer for the State of North Dakota Shawn Riley says, “One of the most common things that’s been happening over the last year is ransom ware.”

This is when a hacker gains access to your computer through a vulnerability, then they encrypt the entire device.

Riley explains, “Information you have around accounting, anything you might have for your normal business, and when they encrypt it, it means you can no longer get to that information.”

John Nagel is the CEO of Cybernet Security. He’s in the business of making sure his client’s are equipped to deal with any incoming threats. 

Nagel says, “Small businesses are a primary target.”

Anywhere from 50 to 60 percent of small businesses are targeted by hackers. Nagel says just being aware of cybersecurity isn’t enough anymore.

He explains, “They need to go out and get a risk assessment to identify the points they need to mitigate.”

Marlo Anderson owns a small business called National Day Calendar, that is dependent on their website.

Anderson adds, “We have had over 850,000 attacks in the last year on our website, so obviously it’s of utmost importance to us.”

Besides using firewalls and a cybersecurity expert to keep track of the website’s vulnerabilities, Anderson says the easiest protection you can put in place is to consistently update your passwords.

He adds, “People will use the same password for a lot of different things. So if they gain access to your Facebook account and then they know where you bank at, they may not know your user name and password for your bank but if you’re using the same password for your bank, all the sudden they have access to it.”

The best advice we received from experts is, don’t underestimate hackers and think you’re not a target. You are.

Anderson noted there is a cost associated with properly protecting your company, but it’s nothing compared to the cost of a hacker holding your website for ransom. 

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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