We all know that if we ran a company like Amazon or Wal-mart, we’d make sure we had the necessary precautions in place to make sure our client information was secure and that any hacker would have an incredibly tough time getting through all of our security to access and exploit or system.  However, since most of us do NOT run a company like Amazon or Wal-mart, we too often think that we can let our cyber security slide because hackers are all going after the bigger fish.

I’m here to tell you that you’re wrong.

Are hackers interested in the mega-billion dollar companies where they can steal thousands of customers files and credit card information?  Of course they are.  But they’re also interested in the one-laptop shop and everything in between. Why?  Because hackers are opportunists, and they can find opportunity anywhere.

No matter how small your business or what industry you’re in, you likely have a treasure trove of information on your system.  It might not be in the form of customer credit card information, but no matter what it is, hackers can find a way to make money off stealing it.  Not only that, but they also find value in infecting your PC and utilizing it as a spambot to collect information and spread threats.

It’s no wonder that many small to medium-sized businesses are unprepared for a cyber attack. Up into the last couple of years, hackers largely left them alone as they went after the conglomerates where they could do the most damage and reap the most rewards.  However, this is no longer the case for a number of reasons.

First, hackers are realizing that smaller entities are easier to get into.  More and more large businesses are working with security providers to make it extremely difficult for hackers to gain access to their systems.  It’s still possible, of course, and continues to happen on a regular basis.  However, many hackers would rather go after the easier prey: i.e., the small businesses who think they’re immune and therefore have few defenses in place.

The second reason is that hackers are realizing they can get to larger businesses through the small businesses they work with.  This article highlights how a large healthcare organization was breached through an attack on their business associates.

The bottom line is, no matter how small your business is, you are still at risk for a cyber attack and that attack could easily take your business down (or at the very least cause you a lot of lost sleep).  When you compare this against the relatively low cost and ease of working with a cyber security professional (or at least using some effective security software), it really makes no sense to NOT have protection in place.

At the very least, we recommend that you run some good anti-virus software on your system.  If you want a free program, Microsoft Security Essentials receives high marks, and is ad-free and non-intrusive.  We recommend spending a little to get better protection, though, and BitDefender and Trend Micro are good options for a small budget.  Performing regular updates for all anti-virus, applications and operating systems is also an essential task.

Have more questions about protecting your small business?  We’re always here to help.

Tony Cody is the Founder and CEO of 12 Points Technologies, a digital forensics and cyber security company that helps protect businesses from online threats, recover from online incidents and provides services for those who need to recover critical information from digital devices. Tony has over 20 years of IT experience with the U.S. military and private firms.  For more information, please visit www.12PointsInc.com