When you run a business that is active in a city like Springfield, it’s easy to put the idea of cybercrime out of your mind. After all, you’re mostly working in the local region, and hackers only target big, multinational companies like Facebook, right?
In reality, hackers and scammers can be serious threats to businesses across the globe, and Springfield, MO is no exception. With local organizations becoming more vulnerable to cybersecurity breaches than ever before, it pays to familiarize yourself with your options. Here are just a few reasons why firms located in southwestern Missouri need to make online security a major priority.
Recent Springfield Data Breaches Show Vulnerabilities
Just last year, thousands of Springfield, MO residents who paid their bills through Springfield City Utilities’ Payment Kiosks or through the TIO mobile payment app possibly had their personal information compromised in a data breach, as Ozarks First reports. New kiosks were scheduled to be installed in early 2018, but the damage to the credibility of the city’s utility providers was already done.
KY3 reported in August of this year that the data of over 550,000 customers of Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen had been compromised, and Dr. Shannon McMurtrey, an assistant professor of management information systems at Drury University, advised additional caution, especially in the leadup to the upcoming midterm elections. She also recommended that users should not store personal or payment information on websites and apps to reduce their likelihood of being hacked.
Cyberthreats may seem like a problem that only major companies have to deal with, but surprisingly it is often small businesses and local governments that are most vulnerable to malicious actors due to a lack of security protocols. As recent data breaches that have affected the Springfield area show, anyone can be a potential target for opportunistic cybercriminals.
Lost Data Results In Lost Credibility
Local businesses rely on word of mouth to maintain the trust of their communities, and compromising the personal and financial data of customers, clients, and patients through inadequate security measures can be a major blow to the confidence their neighbors place in them. The more locally-focused your business is, the more you must work to maintain transparency and trust. Companies as large as Facebook, Yahoo, and Equifax lost the trust of investors and users due to recent data breaches—and a smaller company can’t afford to run the same risk. This is why it is essential to take threats to your cybersecurity seriously and maintain the integrity of your business operation.
Data Breaches Can Harm Local Communities
Hacking can have unforeseen ripple effects across communities, particularly when cybercriminals target small- to medium-sized businesses. For example, if hackers gain access to consumer financial data after accessing a gift shop or restaurant’s customer payment information, they could use the account numbers and routing numbers they gathered in the data breach to target a local bank that might not be equipped to defend itself against a sophisticated cyberattack.
What Can You Do Right Now To Improve Cybersecurity?
Taking The First Steps
A panel of experts from the University of Maryland recently discussed several first steps that organizations can take toward implementing cybersecurity solutions. They recommended adopting a risk management framework involving the categorization of information systems, selection of security controls, assessment of security controls, authorization of information systems, implementation of security controls, and monitoring of security controls. They noted that security breaches should be treated as a possible eventuality rather than a distant concern and planned for accordingly.
The panel also advised creating a checklist of data security control measures to evaluate the organization’s current position, as well as designating a point person whom employees can turn to for cybersecurity-related questions. A list of 20 security controls can be found on the website of the Center for Internet Security, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping individuals and companies reduce their risk of being targeted by cybercriminals.
Alerting employees to the potential risks makes them your first line of defense against data breaches. Everyone at your company should be made aware of how to spot phishing emails and other common social engineering tactics hackers use to gather personal data. In addition, everyone at the company should be using unique passwords and ensuring that their devices are secure at all times, especially if they use personal mobile devices on the work network.
If your organization is large enough to have a dedicated I.T. department, try partnering with them to increase awareness of threats to cybersecurity and educate employees about I.T. security best practices. This will reduce your risk of losing valuable information because of inadequate training, while also giving I.T. employees a sense of agency and ultimately making their jobs easier.
A managed service provider (MSP) can provide data security that allows your business to operate with peace of mind, particularly if you do not have a dedicated I.T. department. Many MSPs offer security services, providing secure access to cloud servers and 24-hour monitoring, among other cybersecurity solutions. Another important way MSPs improve I.T. security is through conducting audits. Your managed service provider can check servers, databases, web applications, and network devices for vulnerabilities before they expose your organization to threats. An MSP can also help you develop a disaster recovery plan so your business is prepared in the event of a data breach or other catastrophic event.
A 2016 report by Comptia shows that 64% of businesses are using some form of managed services, with many companies depending on the security solutions they provide to keep customer data safe. With threats to valuable data on the rise, now is the time to invest in protecting your company’s future.
Managed services can be a cost-effective solution to your cybersecurity concerns, protecting your private data while saving you money on I.T. costs. To learn more about how an MSP can help your business maintain security and stability, call 844-44-JMARK, send us an email at [email protected] or visit the Contact Us page of our website.