In 2020, the threat of data security breaches and ransomware is only growing. 2019 saw 30,000 website hacks every day, usually by robots. The vast majority were unsuccessful, but thousands were. The goal of these data breaches from a hacker’s perspective is to either sell your clients’ personal information online or to shut you down and extort your business for quick cash.
According to PWC, on average, these attacks cost around $13,000 for small businesses and individuals to recover data or their sites, but some ransomware and data breach attacks have cost millions…just this January the city of New Orleans lost $7 million in a ransomware attack.
You will not only suffer losses to your finances from an attack, but your reputation will also be tarnished. Having your client’s private information breached will create a huge barrier of distrust between your organization and future consumers, not to mention potential lawsuits.
On top of all the costs from getting your data back, 27% of consumers would only trust a company again if they were financially compensated. Data breaches are a costly mistake you need to avoid.
Security Affects Consumer Buying Behavior
Companies that are transparent about their security and can prove they protect their customer’s data have an immediate leg up on their competitors.
85% of consumers will NOT do business with a company they have security concerns about, and rightfully so. You need to be able to prove you are a secure and trusted company by having security measures in place to get ahead of consumers in the market.
It is not if you will be attacked, it is when will you be attacked.
So the question is, do you know how to protect your business and customers from a data breach?
Q&A With an Expert
I made sure to get an expert’s opinion on the topic and gained some valuable information that I would like to share with you.
Austin Osborn is a software developer and our in house data security and privacy expert at Flashtract. He has a degree in software engineering from Auburn University with extensive experience building web applications. Austin helped build security measures from the ground up for Flashtract’s Construction Billing Software.
-Software Engineer and Data Security Expert
Q: How serious is the data breach / ransomware threat and are small businesses at risk?
“We have seen an uptick of hackers, ransomware, and other malicious actors in recent years. Small businesses are especially at risk because many lack the resources and insight required to protect sensitive information. Frankly, they don’t see it as a risk and they are wrong. Hackers target small businesses because they are not aware of the threat. Hackers around the world wake up each morning scheming of new ways to steal sensitive information and lock businesses out of their systems. To combat them, you must stay up to date and active in your defense. Flashtract has already been attacked multiple times, but thanks to our security measures none have made it even close to being successful.“
Q: What should you do to protect yourselves and your clients?
“To businesses out there, always keep your operating systems up-to-date with the latest updates. Windows and Mac users are often prompted to update their computers. While this can be slightly annoying, it is the easiest way to keep basic security measures up to date. If you are about to integrate with new software always ask what they are doing to protect their data and do your research on the company. Even if you are doing your part to stay safe, not all businesses who you work with can say the same, and this will put you at risk. Make sure you employ safe financial processing software and remain active in updating and exploring new encryption software to keep your client’s information secure in your servers.“
Q: What is Flashtract doing to keep our clients’ information private and secure?
“Flashtract was designed and built from the ground-up with security and data privacy in mind. We consider these elements to be the bedrock of our application. We’ve spared no effort to ensure that our customers can trust and rely on our system to protect them. Flashtract employs bank-grade security on all login credentials and works with industry leaders in order to ensure all records are kept safe. On top of this, we employ cutting edge technology to protect our servers from unwanted intrusions while keeping all customer data and passwords encrypted.“
Here is a consolidated list of what I learned from the interview…
- Put security first. Security in your systems should be built from the ground up and not be a second thought, it is harder to patch security later.
- Make all login and personal information encrypted on your servers.
- Make sure you use secure financial software such Stripe to process credit card info, this is the most vital information to protect.
- Do not trust all software integrations, just because you are secure does not mean 3rd party software you use is. Do your research before integrating and ask questions.
- Small to mid-sized businesses are at the most risk due to their lack of resources and knowledge to protect themselves. YOU are at risk no matter the scale of your business, protect yourself.
Pay the Ransom
One thing that may surprise you is what you should do if your website does get hacked. It is simple, usually, your best bet is to pay the ransom.
According to Coverware, a company that helps you recover from ransomware attacks, 97% of companies have their data restored if they pay the ransom after being hacked.
In most cases, it is not worth fighting the ransom if they are successful in breaching your security (which they should not be able to if you follow the simple tips above). The trends are showing most hackers run their ransomware attacks as a business.
They want you to get everything back after the ransom is paid so they can tell the next guy they hack, “hey the previous 10 organizations I hacked paid the ransom and got all personal data back so you should do the same.”
Purchase Cyber Insurance
Everyone who does business online should have cyber insurance, it is an easy way to protect yourself from a variety of cyber attacks and loss of data. The city of New Orleans got $3 million back from its cyber insurance after being attacked earlier this year.
The threat of ransomware and data breaches is all too real and growing. Although, it is very avoidable if you stay up-to-date and take a few precautionary steps now instead of after losing your client’s trust. Get ahead of your competition, be a leader in security.