Cyber Security is Crucial for Small Business Owners

Cyber Security is Crucial for Small Business Owners

Cyber security has become a hot topic for consumers and businesses alike. With many corporate organizations being breached over the course of a few years, it has many people on high alert as it pertains to protecting sensitive data both on and offline. Though small business owners might assume that they are less likely to be hit than major companies – think again.

Why Small Businesses Are Targeted

Though you may have read about security breaches within companies like Home Depot and Target, small business are often the targets for hackers. Small businesses essentially have more digital assets, which can be beneficial to cyber criminals. Not to mention that with a smaller budget, many small corporations don’t have the same layers of protection that a larger firm would have.

While there may be no direct reason for your small business to be attacked, what antivirus companies and professionals are learning is that attacks are typically carried out with the use of software on a larger scale. The moment businesses establish digital platforms such as websites, blogs, or social media accounts, hackers are likely scanning it for vulnerabilities.

What Are the Most Common Forms of Attack?

There are several types of cyber attacks that can take place. While many of these are the result of external sources (i.e. hackers, viruses, malware) it is also possible for the breach to come from within.

Data Breaches – At the top of the list are data breaches. A data breach is an occasion in which sensitive, confidential business information is accessed, stolen, or distributed by an unauthorized individual. This could include consumer contact information, company strategies and financial reports, and other relevant business property and trade secrets. Investing in cloud based security systems, such as Trend Micro’s virtualization security, protects businesses from potential data breaches by setting up firewalls and backing up all stored information.

Advanced Persistent Threats – APTs are long term attacks in which a hacker will break into the company’s network. The trick is the breach is done in several stages to prevent detection. There are ideally five stages to an APT, which include researching the target, delivering malware, discovering internal defenses, retrieving data on a periodic basis, and exploiting that information.

Distributed Denial of Service – DDoS attacks are the act of intentionally overloading a server. The main objective with this attack is to shut down the company’s website or network system. Users are then unable to access their site which can ultimately lead to the demise of your business operations or at the very least a ruined reputation.

Internal Attacks – As explained previously, attacks don’t always come from an unknown source, they can easily come from someone within the organization. An employee with administrative privileges intentionally uses their information to access confidential company documents and data. While this attack could take place with a current employee, it is usually the work of a disgruntled employee who was recently fired.

Malware – Another attack is with malware. This is best defined as malicious software. It is a program that might be sent to a company computer. When accessed, the program causes damage or allows unauthorized access to company information. There are several types of malware each with their own set of risks. This includes viruses, worms, Trojans, and spyware.

Phishing – One of the most common cyber thefts is phishing. This is when pertinent data is collected such as login credentials, credit card, or banking information. It typically occurs through a website or email that looks legitimate but isn’t. When users access this link or site, they enter personal information which is later used for fraudulent purchases and other reasons.

Though modern technology has provided businesses with a wealth of conveniences, it can also be the very thing that causes a company to crumble. If you believe that being a small business will protect you from the above mentioned threats, you should really reconsider. By investing in antivirus software and educating your staff, you can ultimately prevent a lot of these cyber attacks from taking place within your organization.

 

Surviving in the Software Contractor World

Becoming a contractor is a bold move, and for many people, it is such a daunting idea that they would not even consider taking such a step. This is why the rewards are potentially enormous, and not just from a financial standpoint. Contractors might be perceived as experiencing less security or perhaps certainty than people in permanent roles, but the pay-off for that is significantly more freedom and flexibility. A contractor is essentially his or her own boss and while this comes with additional responsibilities, it provides a means of control over one’s life that permanent employees rarely, if ever, get to experience.

Software experts, like most IT professionals, are particularly well suited to contractor roles and are therefore well-placed to enjoy the benefits of this type of career and the associated lifestyle.

Hints and tips

Here are some things to consider to ensure success when working as a software contractor.

  • Emphasize specialist skills. The work of a software expert tends to be based on projects and therefore has an inherently temporary nature. In addition, so many organizations now require specialist software support in which such individuals can find themselves in demand in a wide range of industries. Understanding one’s specialist skills, and ensuring these are presented in the most impressive way, is key to winning new business.
  • Build a network. Publicity is also critical to winning new business, and word-of-mouth is the best way to achieve that publicity. Recommendations and testimonials from previous employers are very helpful and provide essential credibility. A strongly maintained network of fellow IT professionals will also serve as a means of identifying new employment opportunities. Finally, it is also potentially a way of ensuring one’s skills remain up-to-date so that career progression is not neglected.
  • Get organized. Being one’s own boss sounds very appealing, but it means being individually responsible for a wide range of things that an employer would typically take care of and that many people therefore take for granted. Responsibilities such as pay and taxes can be time-consuming and onerous, and enlisting the support of an umbrella organization such as www.atlantic-umbrella.com can be hugely helpful, as they will take care of this sort of thing, freeing up the individual to devote his or her time and effort to the profit-making side of their business.

Daunting but rewarding

The decision to become a contractor, whether it is made by someone at the start of his or her working life or someone who is considering a career change, is not one to be taken lightly. Such a transition is more than just a change of employment. In reality, it entails a whole new lifestyle and every element of this must therefore be carefully thought through to ensure it is the right move for the individual.

It is daunting, but it is also potentially rewarding and fortunately, all it takes is some careful research and the right sort of preparation to guarantee the best possible chance of success.