How Small Businesses Can Avoid Bankruptcy from Malicious Attacks

Growing a small business takes dedication and hard work, not to mention a good chunk of change to turn a dream into reality. The U.S. Small Business Administration estimates that starting a small business can cost anywhere between $3,000 to $30,000, depending on the size of the venture.

Since small businesses take time to mature, it can take year or more to turn a profit. Even then, many companies will only break even.

With all that to consider, the last thing you want to think about is falling prey to some malicious hacker. But it’s a reality small-business owners need to consider. According to Forbes magazine, nearly 60 percent of all small businesses that experience a cyberattack close six months after the breach. Where would that leave your small business?

Triple Threat

Cyber Extortion

Ever wonder why hackers engage in cyberattacks? While some hackers have political motives, often referred to as hacktivism, malicious or “black hat” hackers desire nothing more than to steal your information for financial profit. And one way they do it is through extortion.

Computer Weekly reports that cyber extortion is a growing threat to companies around the world but is rarely divulged, as victim companies “just pay up and keep quiet.” The information hackers obtain can either be held as blackmail or locked in such a way that the rightful owners cannot access it. Either way, you won’t be regaining control until you pay up.

Attackers can carry out these attacks by unleashing ransomware into a company’s network, often through phishing scams or spam email attachments. Since ransomware encrypts an organization’s key data, attackers can demand a lump sum in exchange for the network to be released back into the rightful control of the business.

Conversely, hackers can launch a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack. DDoS attacks crash a Website or service with an overload of phony service requests, which ultimately blocks out legitimate visitors until the ransom is paid.

Business Disruption

Obviously, paying hackers to retrieve your own information is a business expense no one wants. But while you are wrestling with this faceless threat, you will continue to lose income. In fact, 48 percent of small businesses victimized reported service interruption to their business.

As discussed before, profits can be razor thin for fledgling ventures. And since 49 percent of small business owners are in debt, this loss of productivity could ruin you.

Risk assessment? Business News Daily estimates $5,000 in lost business opportunities and $23,000 in downtime. But what happens to customers during this downtime? They might switch to one of your competitors.

Loss of Customer Confidence

Let’s not forget that a data breach not only harms your business, it also exposes the personal or financial information of your employees and customers. Would consumers be so eager to do business with you if they thought their most valuable information was at risk?

Security news and research group CSO reports that 86 percent of consumers say they are not likely to do business with an organization that suffered a data breach involving debit or credit card details.

Take, for example, the 2013 Target hack in which 40 million credit card records were stolen. The aftermath included a $10 million class action settlement, not to mention a loss in customer confidence.

To add insult to injury, some public-facing hacker groups may argue that if these businesses had really had their customers’ best interests at heart, their services wouldn’t be so easily infiltrated.

Your Cyber Safety Net

While a robust cyber security policy is the first line of defense for your small business, it is also necessary to have a Plan B in case you fall prey to some savvy hacker. If your company were attacked right now, could you afford the thousands of dollars it would cost to try and salvage the business?

Luckily, cyber liability insurance covers first-party and third-party damages, including loss of customer or client personal information, data breach, cyber extortion, business interruption, damage to reputation, computer fraud and more.

That’s why the demand for cybersecurity insurance increased 21 percent across all industries in 2014. So you have to ask yourself, are you prepared?