You may have heard it before, but…

Prevention is the key to protecting your IT security and identity from cyber criminals. When you read that, don’t you just want to push that thought aside and say, “It won’t happen to me!”. It doesn’t have to be as long as you put preventative measures into place.

We’re living more and more of our work lives online, including banking, payroll, and ordering supplies. With technology evolving so quickly, we don’t always know how we’re leaving ourselves open to online fraud, scams or identity theft. As well, it seems the majority of small businesses in Canada are not adequately prepared to ward off the interest of a cyber criminal.

Canada’s ongoing Get Cyber Safe public awareness campaign brings attention to the fact that cyber criminals are now “actively targeting smaller businesses because they believe their computers are vulnerable.”  In fact, the largest growth area for targeted cyber attacks in 2012 was businesses with fewer than 250 employees — 31% of all attacks targeted them. The campaign aims to help Canadians become more educated about Internet security, and provide the steps they can take to protect themselves online.

Cyber security at work is a shared responsibility. Several people within a business — co-owners, managers and employees — should become familiar with the importance of security safeguards in terms of operations. A fraudster can assume the identity of a business and steal client lists, assets, and credit information, or use the company’s identity to obtain business or payments. The cyber criminal could be a completely unknown third party, an employee, a competitor or even a supplier.

According to this Globe and Mail’s Report on Business article ,“the average cyber attack can cost a company just over $3-million – a hefty price tag that factors in loss of client trust and non-compliance fines of up to $1-million.”

No wonder the majority of small businesses that experience a cyber attack fold within six months.  So, what proactive steps can you take to protect yourself and your business?

Read through Get Cyber Safe Guide for Small and Medium Businesses

Outsource your IT and cyber security needs to a specialist with a good reputation, knowledge and expertise to protect your business from cyber criminals.

Given what a small business has to lose (i.e. everything), it doesn’t seem a waste to invest in cyber security. According to industry guidelines, a small business should be spending anywhere from 3 to 7% of its operating budget on security.

It’s important to be proactive, and prepare to face a cyber attack with up-to-date antivirus software and firewalls, smart passwords, secure servers, and regular backups.  If that’s not your forte, that’s okay – it’s ours!