Take the risk of hacking seriously or suffer the consequences. That’s the message to small business owners who, as government records show, are more likely to suffer a cyberattack than a burglary.
‘SHE’LL BE RIGHT. ’
‘Why would anyone care what a plumber has on his computer?’
‘I’m at the end of the alphabet mate. Don’t hackers go from A to Z?’
These are just some of the many things we’ve heard when talking to trade-related businesses about antivirus protection and off-site data back-ups. The truth is that she won’t ‘be right’.
1 in 5 small businesses cyberattacked
Last year, a local building company was unwittingly used as part of a sophisticated hacking scam that cost at least three firms a total of $25,000. You may not think you are of interest, but your client information, banking history or just the satisfaction of disrupting your, or any, business are some of the things that appeal to hackers.
So why is it that builders, plumbers, electricians, mechanics and painters often leave antivirus protection and back-ups to chance? The common reason is that they are so busy working that their IT system, regardless of how big or small, is left to fend for itself.
The problem is that, as more tradespeople use mobile devices for work and hackers get better at their craft, the chance of an attack increases.
In fact, you are now more likely to be the victim of a cyberattack on your business than of being burgled. According to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), one in five New Zealand small businesses have been the target of a cyberattack.
Where would you be without a back-up?
It’s a similar story with back-ups. They either never happen, or when they do, it’s to a USB drive that is left on site or chucked in the van. The chances of anyone checking to see that the back-ups are done and not corrupted are low. This is despite a third of businesses saying they wouldn’t last a week without critical data, according to a survey carried out by NZ Entrepreneur.
The potential for disruption to any business as the result of a cyberattack is huge. Not only is data at risk, your clients are at risk along with your company’s reputation. The government cybersecurity initiative, ConnectSmart: 2017 Cyber security trends, published in February 2017 reports that 72% of New Zealanders experienced a cyber breach in 2016. Even worse, 60% of small businesses who have experienced a cyberattack go out of business within 6 months of the attack according to www.Smallbiztrends.com.
Install robust, monitored antivirus software
Before you throw your arms up in despair, there are some easy things to do to lessen the chances of an attack or major loss of data.
A popular misconception is that having monitored antivirus protection is too expensive for small businesses. The truth is, fully managed antivirus protection is more affordable than you think.
Because it’s monitored, your machines are constantly checked for any attacks. These include malware, spyware, ransomware and phishing attacks. The types of antivirus software that are deployed into businesses are always updated so they can detect the latest viruses. While not 100% secure against attacks, it will lessen your business's exposure.
Off-site data storage and automatic back-ups
When using this approach, your business data is secured in off-site back-up facilities. Having your critical data stored in another city or region is also a good way to lessen your company’s exposure to data loss in the event of an earthquake, flood or other disaster.
Off-site data back-ups are automated to run as often as required. At least once a day is standard although they can run as often as needed during the day. These back-ups also report on successful and unsuccessful backups, so no more guessing if your back-ups have worked. And being automated means no more risk of back-ups being forgotten or hard drives being lost or damaged.
As a business owner, managed antivirus and automated off-site back-ups mean one less thing to worry about. And for the record, hackers don’t methodically start at A and finish at Z.
This is intended as general advice only. For specific advice, contact your advisor or local Staples Rodway office.
Articles are correct at the time of publication but may have since become outdated.