A recent BullGuard survey of small and medium-sized businesses (SMB) reveals that 60% of business owners believe they won't be a target for hackers. It's great to see such optimism but it’s misplaced; the hard reality is that hackers do target small businesses.

Large companies have the resources required for sophisticated cybersecurity but small businesses don’t, they are often under capitalised and always outgunned. Hackers will target them for their customer lists and customer payment card numbers, their internal data to carry out identity fraud or as a Trojan horse to gain access to larger companies.

Small business dies of shame

A classic example is US retailer Target. The company was hit by a hack that ended up costing it $39 million; 40 million customers were affected, its share price plunged and the CEO fell on his sword. And how was it attacked? It's heating and ventilation contractor, Fazio Mechanical, was infiltrated by hackers who stole the login details it used to access Target’s network. Talk about embarrassing.

The survey further revealed that 18.5% of business owners have been victims of a hack in the past 12 months. And what happens after an attack? The consequences can be devastating. 25% of those who suffered a breach said they had to spend $10,000 or more. This is no small sum and for many small businesses, in particular, it could make the difference between surviving and going under.

Furthermore, 50% of SMB owners said it took 24 hours or longer to recover from a breach or cyber-attack, while 25% reported they lost business as a result, and almost 40% stated they lost crucial data. Further, cyber-attacks usually result in additional damage to intangible assets such as brand reputation and customer goodwill. Who will trust a small business if it loses sensitive customer data?

A lifetime’s work down the cyber plug hole

There are many examples of the cost to SMBs following a cyber-attack. Some small businesses have been known to fold after attacks, with the owners deciding to pull the plug on the business rather than dishing out on the cost of clean-up.

In the US, a humanitarian aid trip organizer Volunteer Voyages, a single-owner small business suffered $14,000 in fraudulent charges after an online thief pilfered its debit card information, which the bank refused to reimburse. A popular online food delivery startup DoorDash, suffered a major data breach with hackers accessing sensitive user data costing the company tens of thousands of dollars. The list goes on whether it’s a dental practice, restaurant, travel agency, retailer, bowling alley and more.

Today, attackers are getting smarter, attacks are happening faster and incidents are becoming more complex. The latest cyber-attacks speedily exploit vulnerabilities in computer networks that can be infected, just like human immune systems. These attacks can overtake even major networks in an hour or so, not to mention what they can do to small business networks.

Let’s just shoot ourselves in the foot

Given these unassailable facts, it’s a surprise that so many SMB owners think that they aren’t a target for hackers. Equally alarming are the cybersecurity defenses adopted by SMBs. The survey discovered that one-third of companies with 50 or fewer employees report using free, consumer-grade cyber-security while one in five companies use no endpoint security at all.

Talk about dicing with danger; this leaves unprotected small businesses vulnerable to all types of malware including ransomware. The study also found that 43% of SMB owners have no cybersecurity defense plan in place at all. Again this is shocking and more so if employees aren't taught about phishing emails and what to look out for.

Saving the day

In today's online environment cybersecurity for small businesses should be a default just as locks are on a door. You can get away with not locking a door but at some point, someone will discover and inevitably take advantage. It's no different with cybersecurity, except the damage could be even more devastating.

BullGuard Small Office Security is the ideal cyber protection platform for small businesses. Most cyber-attacks begin with malware infections. Fazio Mechanical, the small heating and air conditioning firm responsible for the devastating attack on Target were breached via malware delivered in a phishing email. The malware was designed to capture login details.

BullGuard protects all your devices, from desktop PCs to smartphones and laptops used in the field. You won't get better protection and given that BullGuard Small Office Security is exclusively designed for small businesses it’s the perfect platform for your protection.

You can manage all of your devices from a centralised cloud portal dashboard to ensure all the latest updates are in place, be alerted to malware in emails and even remotely lock down devices if they are lost or stolen. It’s really easy to manage, even for a layperson, so you can get on with the business of running your business with peace of mind and without having to wrangle with complex software.

And you won’t be one of the 60% of small business owners who don’t think they are a target for hackers – until they are.

Check out BullGuard Small Office Security here.