When you first started your small business, did you ever imagine that a criminal sitting at a computer in a foreign country on the other side of the planet could be a threat to your livelihood? Or that your printer could provide a cyber thief with access to your private data? Probably not. And yet these threats are now a grim reality for business owners.
The past decade has been a boon for cyber criminals. We’ve seen major attacks on corporate giants, the healthcare industry, and the federal government that have compromised the private data of millions. We’ve seen powerful computer viruses cause major headaches for businesses, IT teams, and home computer users. And we’ve seen record breaking numbers of distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks and evolving phishing attacks. Technology has grown by leaps and bounds, and cyber criminals learn fast.
Today, most businesses worldwide see cyber-attacks as the top threat.
That’s according to the annual Horizon Scan report published recently by the Business Continuity Institute (BCI). Data breaches are second on the threat list. And with these threats on the rise, the price tag is going up too. It’s estimated that cyber-crimes cost the global economy around $445 billion every year, and that number is no doubt on the rise.
From inside, outside, and all around
Why is this threat beyond 360 degrees of risk? Because today’s evolving cyber risks not only threaten businesses from all sides and from around the world, but from the inside as well. Consider these two growing threats:
- Cyber-attacks by nation states. China, Russia, North Korea, and Iran are known to be targeting U.S. businesses to steal intellectual property or disrupt operations. Remember the massive Sony attack? North Korea is suspected of being behind that one. And Iran reportedly attacked the Las Vegas Sands Corp. for comments made by the casino operator’s CEO about the country. But if you should become a target, don’t expect much help from the federal government. Mike Rogers, former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, notes that 85 percent of U.S. networks are in the private sector, and U.S. privacy laws prohibit organizations such as the National Security Agency from being on those networks.
- The insider threat. It could be a disgruntled worker planting a virus or stealing data; a careless mistake by an employee that reveals confidential information; a vulnerable mobile device that gets hacked; an unpatched or unprotected device on your network such as a router, server, or printer that allows access; or a breach of your system through your connection with a third party vendor or service provider.
Any one of these scenarios could wreak havoc on your business, and if it happens to you, the financial impact could be devastating:
- Loss of business income
- Liability for breach of confidential information
- Business interruption
- Costs to notify customers whose confidential information has been breached
- Legal and public relations costs
Cyber liability insurance protection is no longer an option
Cyber-risks are growing and evolving every day, and no business is immune anymore. Protecting your small business requires a proactive cyber risk management strategy, and that starts with a thorough evaluation of your cyber security measures. You need to identify every vulnerability and come up with a plan to plug it. That includes developing and enforcing strict company policies and procedures for handling sensitive company and customer data and for using technology.
Top off your cyber risk management strategy with robust insurance protection. See the business insurance experts at Higginbotham Insurance for a cyber liability insurance policy that will protect you from the financial fallout of these growing threats.