1(630)802-8605 Ravi.das@bn-inc.net

One of the themes of this blog site has been to bring to you, the small business owner and even individuals alike, news from the Cybersecurity world, and condense it down to a level that is relevant and “consumable” to you.  As you hopefully will have it noticed, we stay away from the techno jargon and try to make this easier for you to understand from a real-world exposure.

I do this by picking up a news headline that I see is different from the others (notice I don’t talk about what has been hacked into every day), summarize it, bring my own experiences into it, and offer my tips and advice as to what you can do to better protect both you and your business. 

But I just realized, I have been writing about stuff that I think is relevant to you.  I never thought that I should think this the other way around, meaning, what keeps you awake at night?  Well, this question got partially answered today in a news story which outlines in some detail what keeps the issues in Cybersecurity that matter most to the SMB owner.  Loosely put, what is it that scares you the most?

Here are some of the answers according to the most recent 2019 market research study conducted by Unisys entitled “The Security Index”:

*Identity Theft and Credit Card Fraud remain at the top of the list.  Apparently, this what is most worrisome to SMB owners.  The survey looked at eight different threat vectors, and these two stood out amongst the highest of all of them.  In fact, 69% of the total number of respondents said that they have either been a victim of this or feel that they are very much prone to becoming a victim of it.

*After Identity Theft, Credit Card Fraud remains the second highest concern amongst the SMBs, with 63% of the respondents stating this.

*Following the above two, Internet Security is the third highest area of concern.  Obviously, this a very broad area, so the survey broke it down as follows:

               *63% of the respondents are very fearful of Viruses and Hacking into their own computers, workstations, wireless devices, or IT Infrastructures;

               *57% of the SMB owners are gravely concerned about their online store (or also known as their “E-Commerce front”) being hacked into.

But much to my surprise (or maybe I just didn’t think about it), many people are even fearful to attend large scale events because of the strong potential to lose their PII that way (for example, this includes losing a wallet, being pick pocket, robbed, attacked, etc.).  Here is what the survey also found in this instance:

*57% of the respondents are afraid to the use the public Wi-Fi;

*59% of the SMB owners are even more fearful of having their credit card stolen;

*28% of the respondents said that they would no longer attend large scale events because of the above-mentioned fears;

*39% of the SMBs stated that they would take extra precautions in order to secure their mobile wallets and Smartphones when attending another large-scale event.

The summary concluded by stating that these are the highest levels of fears exhibited in these categories in three years.  Of course, this only reflects the times that we are living in right now.

My thoughts on this?

Well, I am a small business owner (actually a very small) myself, and what keeps me up at night?  Well, when I am active during the day, my time is mostly spent in front of the computer, working.  So, in this regard, what keeps me on my toes is visiting a website that is fraudulent.  There are so many fake websites out there that look like the real thing, it is almost even hard for a trained professional to spot them upon the first glance.

There are very subtle clues, but you have to take a lot of time to find them.  And honestly, who really has that kind of time in today’s world?  This is one of the ploys that the Cyberattacker of today is using.  Why am I so worried about visiting a fake website?  Well, one evening some number of months ago, I was visiting the website of a Cybersecurity company, and simply copied and pasted the contact info from their website onto a Word document.

I don’t know how it all exactly happened, but I picked up some sort of virus which eventually totally destroyed my entire computer.  Luckily, I had everything backed up.  Probably my next biggest fear is that of Credit Card and Bank Fraud, as the survey highlighted.  I too was once a victim of Credit Card Fraud, and that really startled me, even though the damages were only about $200.00.

Because of that, I am constantly checking my accounts at least twice a day, just to make sure that there is no fraudulent activity that is occurring.  I guess another concern I have is even my Cloud Provider of getting hacked into where I have all of my backup data stored.  Because of that, I have most critical data backed up as well onto an external medium as well.

Really, in the end, as SMB owners, all we can do is the best we can to protect only our own businesses, but even our personal selves also.  One has to be cognizant of the fact that we are all on tight budgets, and we don’t have the vast resource pools like the Fortune 500 companies do (but we’ll get there one day – after all, Microsoft and Apple first started in a garage, didn’t they?).

The key thing is to always keep your systems updated and backed up.  Always have a strong Security Policy in place, and make sure that you enforce it, at all cost, even if it means your employees will be unhappy at first.  Also, make sure you that you keep a 24-hour hotline available so that your employees can report anonymously on any potential Insider Threat activity that could be transpiring.  

If you can, on a regular basis (at minimum twice a year), conduct a routine audit of your IT systems so that any vulnerabilities and weaknesses can be discovered and fixed quickly.  In most instances, you may have to procure the services of either a Penetration Testing or Threat Hunting team to do this kind of work, so make sure that you have some money set aside to do this (these services are not cheap, but they are well worth it in the long run).

The study conducted by Unisys can be seen at this link:

https://secureoutreach.unisys.com/USI2019Global?src=ms

Finally, do let me know as well what keeps you up at night, and I will share them on this blog site, and provide tips as to how you can better protect yourself (and of course sleep better).