As large businesses worldwide amp up on cyber security, hackers are beginning to look elsewhere for their victims.  Research by Symantec, an internet security firm, states that 40% of all targeted attacks since 2010 have been on small to medium-sized businesses.  Attacks on large corporations, on the other hand, have accounted for only 28% of total attacks.  Hackers are targeting small businesses because they are aware that many small businesses do not have proper defenses in place and see these firms as lower-risk targets than large firms and financial institutions.

Cyber criminals are often after data that can be sold on the cyber-underground such as credit card numbers, employee information, and log-in details. Often times this information is easily obtained by hackers because businesses fail to take the necessary precautionary measures.  Surveys show that three out of five small businesses fail to use anti-virus technology on all desktop computers, and two out of three do not properly secure machines used for online banking.  This is not to say that firms that do not apply such safeguards will be attacked or that firms who do are 100% safe, but instead to suggest that basic cyber-security measures can greatly reduce the chance of cyber-theft. 

Many of the precautions for protecting against cyber-theft are quite basic and involve using common sense.  For example, firms should make sure that important and confidential information is not accessed using unsecured Wi-Fi hotspots or unprotected smartphones and tablets.  Other simple tips are to have a strong password and change it regularly, apply anti-virus software updates when available, and keep your children off of your work computer. 

Small businesses can greatly reduce the risk of being attacked by a cyber-criminal by taking basic precautions.  The time spent securing your business will not be in vain, as it could save you and your business not only money but unnecessary problems and headaches as well.  For those of you who do not own a small business, much of this information is still relevant for protecting your personal information against cyber-attacks.

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