Have you noticed that both cyber threats and shark sightings/attacks seems to be grabbing more than their share of the media spotlight these days?
While we will not attempt to provide good advice to beachgoers on how they should conduct themselves during the Summer of the Shark (for this, we recommend tuning in to the Discovery Channel's 2015 Shark Week which kicked off on July 5), we do happen to know something about the other common news story, regarding increasingly common IT security risks and potential cyber threats (and how we can help minimize them.)
And while cyber and shark attacks do have at least one thing in common, it's more important to dive into the critical way that they are very, very different and what small businesses can do to minimize the risks…from the IT side of the water at least.
What IT Security Risks have in Common with Shark Encounters
Well, very little actually. Except for this one thing. In both cases, it's like someone just screamed “Shark!” and now as beachgoers/business owners, we have to decide how to react. Do we run screaming and never set foot in the water again? Survey the scene and decide that it was just a false alarm, diving right back in without a care in the world? Wait it out? Or something in-between?
With alarming statistics about significant revenue loss and businesses failing due to attacks (cyber, not shark) making tech headlines, it's no surprise that many small business owners might dismiss the risk as hype or a way to sell them a solution that they don't REALLY need. The potential loss figures and doomsday predictions can create a sense of fatigue with the whole topic that leads to a dismissive “that will never happen to me” attitude. And the result is that businesses just keep swimming along, oblivious to and potentially defenseless against any would-be predators.
Cleary the fact that there are sharks in the ocean hasn't stopped the nation's beaches from filling up summer after summer, so it's also no wonder that 66% of small businesses say they are not concerned with either external or internal threats online. This despite the fact at least 90% of small businesses rely on the Internet for daily operations, and nearly half of all small businesses have reportedly been a victim of a cyber-attack. (Source: National Cyber Security Alliance)
If your business has never experienced any type of attack, data loss or significant disruption, it's easy to write off all of the talk of security risks and threats as you might the shark attacks – sure, the few that happen make national news, but there is also the statistic revealing that more people are killed each year by cows than sharks that went viral to prove that it's all just hype. And chances are high that you have never been attacked by or even encountered a shark, so why worry at all?
Here's Why IT Security Risks are Actually NOT like Shark Attacks
You can avoid an encounter with a shark. If the idea of swimming alongside a shark really does keep you up at night, you can simply choose to stay out of the water. Boom. Problem solved and your safety (from sharks at least) is 100% guaranteed.
However, unless your plan is to build a time machine and go back to the 1980's, where businesses actually could survive without dipping a proverbial toe into technology, just “staying out of the water” (i.e. foregoing use of technology) is no longer a viable option. Like it or not, we live in the year 2015, where customers and employees alike demand the convenience that comes with instant access to information, product ordering, etc.
We live in a connected age, and along with all of the data sharing, selfies and efficiencies come increased risk of theft, fraud and abuse.
News flash: there are sharks in the ocean. And we all swim for a living.
So what's a small business to do when swimming with the sharks is inevitable?
Small businesses can certainly take steps to minimize their risks as much as possible through good IT management practices that employ the latest anti-virus software, firewalls, backups, and regular monitoring and patch management to ensure the health of your network. You should only use protected software and cloud resources. You should have written policies for your employees on use of the Internet and social media sites, and provide training on creating strong passwords for additional protection.
(If these basic procedures aren't in place, then step 1 is to step up your IT service – for more on that, check out our recent blog post on declaring your independence from I.T. stress. And then call Corsica because we have your solution!)
But it's equally important to recognize that a business disruption can just as easily be caused by human error – for example, an employee-owned flash drive that unknowingly transfers malware to your network – as a malicious attack by a hacker or a disgruntled employee. Servers fail, hurricanes hit and cause power outages and PC's get infected and all of these things can impact your ability to run your business.
Downtime is downtime and no matter who or what causes it, it's going to cost you. International Data Corp estimates that companies lose an average of $84,000 for every hour of downtime. Even worse than the straight cost of downtime though is the cost of data loss, damage to your brand, and loss of customer loyal and confidence.
The reality is that because there is no absolute repellent against IT security risks (or sharks, for that matter), small businesses need to establish a disaster recovery plan.
Without one, you will be faced with the challenge of determining how to quickly restore your systems and network so that you can get back to business. And chances are, it won't be quick or easy. Yes, your data may be backed up but did you know that this is only part of the equation? Accessing the data is another matter altogether and is generally the more complex part of the DR solution.
When you work with a provider like Corsica Tech to implement a disaster recovery solution, not only will your data be properly backed up, you will have the peace of mind that there is a plan in place to quickly recover and restore your network and get you back to business-as-usual in the shortest amount of time. Downtime can be reduced from days to hours or less, with full confidence that all critical functions will be restored and that you have knowledge of the extent of any data loss because you decided ahead of time whether one hour of data or one day's worth was acceptable, based on your unique business needs.
Reliance on technology is the reality and unlike sharks, cannot be avoided in today's marketplace. Which means you will encounter risks and threats along the way, from both internal and external forces. But with good IT management practices in place to help minimize these IT security risks, along with an established disaster recovery plan, Corsica Technologies can help to keep your business afloat even when a predator does come along.
Relax…We've Got I.T.
About Corsica Technologies
The mission of Corsica Tech is to deliver custom IT service solutions to small businesses, providing them with exceptional customer service, and the peace of mind that their IT systems are being professionally monitored and managed so that they can focus on their core business. Corsica Tech will monitor, manage and maintain your IT systems, ensuring that your network is running at peak efficiency. It's like having the IT professional down the hall...only better.