Springfield, Mo – We have heard about data breaches at big companies like Target and Yahoo, but small businesses are at higher risk when it comes to cyber attacks.
In 2014 alone, Missourians lost $7.1 million to cyber crime. And small businesses here in the Ozarks have fallen victim.
While you might think malware protection is the best defense, IT experts say it’s the individual using the computer who can fight off hackers.
“The value of businesses rely in the data that they house and the info they have,” said Richard Ollis, CEO of Ollis/Akers/Arney insurance agency.
While big companies receive a lot of attention when there’s a data breach. It’s local businesses, experts say, that are an easier and more common target.
“Small businesses don’t have as sophisticated of a system,” said Jeremy Hill, director of business development at JMARK, a cyber security company.
Hill says 75 percent of victims of cyber attacks are businesses with less than 100 employees.
“People will actually take over a session on somebody’s computer watch them log into their online banking and then go in later and transfer money right our of somebody’s account,” he said. “We’ve seen that happen right here in the Ozarks just in the last several months.”
To protect clients’ and customers’ information, Hill says businesses should invest in professional cyber security or have a full-time IT employee to monitor activity.
“Somebody who just looks at it once a month or once a week isn’t good enough anymore,” he said.
Cyber liability is also becoming more popular.
“We wrote our first policy about 6 years ago, and now I would guess that about 30 percent of our clients actually have it,” said Ollis. “That number is increasing as you see more and more exposure to it.”
But experts say training employees to notice red flags is the best firewall against cyber crime.
“The bad guys are not going to target your computer, they will target you, and get you to get them information. So, just be skeptical,” said Hill.
Hill says some signs to look out for are if your computer being slow all of a sudden and too many pop-up windows requesting to install software.
If you think something is wrong, call professional help and in the meantime don’t do anything with sensitive information, such as shopping or online banking.
The Small Business Administration provides online training and other resources on cyber security for businesses.