Approximately 87% of small business owners don’t think they are at risk for data breaches, according to Forbes. This logic, while understandable—small businesses have fewer clients, smaller amounts of personal data, and less to monitor—is an outdated and naïve posture to have. Many small business owners feel that they lay outside of the prime threat zone due their size and a perception that they may not be worth the hit for malicious outsiders. This is far from the case, but why are small businesses being targeted, often more frequently larger organizations?

This article is the first in a series that will discuss the state of cybersecurity as it pertains specifically to small businesses. Stay tuned to read more about how to create an effective prevention plan that is catered to the specific pain points that a smaller organization might encounter, as well as how your small business can take action when it does encounter the unfortunate instance of a breach.

Small businesses arguably have the most to lose in the case of a data breach, no matter how small it may be. And unfortunately, too many small operations cannot survive the blow of a severe breach and find themselves having to close their doors. They can be particularly vulnerable to cyber threats because they do store sensitive information of clients, even if it is a smaller number. Yet, they have fewer resources than larger organizations to allocate for the creation of a defense strategy and effective prevention plan.

Despite a common disbelief from owners that their business will be targeted, Forbes reported that about half of small businesses actually do encounter a cyberattack—it’s really less about if, and more a matter of when. Nearly all cyberattacks are in an effort to access personal data. While it’s true that larger operations might have more information to steal, small businesses become a prime target because they often have less secure networks protecting data. Network security really becomes a larger factor than the actual quantity, as hackers are even able to automate their attacks on smaller targets.

Risk within the landscape of the small business world is an under-emphasized consideration when creating a security plan—that is, if the small business owner has taken the consideration to do so. The Huffington Post conducted a survey of small business owners in the United States to get a better idea of how they are approaching the potential risk factors present in their business operations and what their approach to mitigating those vulnerabilities were. Like other similar findings, they discovered that small businesses were more vulnerable than they perceived themselves to be. Thus, these smaller operations weren’t creating the budget or taking other proactive steps to create a strong defense strategy against attacks.

Take the First Step: Understand Your Risk

Among survey findings, they revealed that while some operations do have some concern about the possibilities of cyberattacks, over half of them have not allocated a budget for mitigation. Their conclusion can be chalked up to the fact that many small business owners are conducting business without the proper knowledge of how to handle important client data—or they just don’t believe that they store any information that is considered valuable. The survey showed that 68 percent of the small businesses polled stored email addresses, 64 percent held on to email information, and 54 percent had the billing addresses from client interactions. If the many recent scares that seem to be popping up with ever-increasing frequency tell us anything, it’s that no business operation can afford to neglect a security plan altogether. Understanding your risk—we recommend an IT risk assessment—is really the first step in the process of making your business more secure.

To drill the staggering numbers in, once again, yet another report generated for 2016 small business security found that 50 percent of small businesses suffered a breach within that year. You heard it—50 percent! That means that half of small businesses have had to suffer the effects of a breach, and the other half is likely in waiting. There is no time to waste. Our concern over the security posture of small businesses prompted a three-part series. Prepare to hear more about how you can prevent vulnerability in your small business!

Digital Forge offers cybersecurity assessments and packages that meet the individual needs of every business, no matter your size or industry. Contact us today for more information. Call us at (877) 369-1831 or email info@dfcyber.com.