This article was originally posted on the American Express Open Forum and written by Linda Doell.Linda is an award-winning journalist with more than more than 22 years' experience as a reporter, editor and blogger. Linda blogs via Contently.com.
Cyberattacks are on the rise and hackers are targeting more than just big business.
Small businesses are at risk, too, and companies of all sizes are woefully ill-prepared to fight off online threats.
Before brushing off the need for cybersecurity, consider this: 97 percent of data breaches last year were avoidable without the need to employ expensive countermeasures to combat them.
In its 2012 Data Breach Investigations Report, Verizon Communications examined 855 data breaches in 2011 at businesses in the United States, Ireland, the Netherlands, Australia and England. Verizon has compiled the annual report since 2004.
Hacking and the use of malware were the preferred methods to get at businesses' information, with both methods being used in breaches, the report states. Hacking was used in 81 percent of the breaches and malware in 69 percent of the incidents.
By far, the most sought-after target of these breaches was "personally identifiable information," which can include a person's name, contact information and Social Security Number. Personal information accounted for 95 percent of all of the data records stolen during the breaches in 2011.
“The report demonstrates that unfortunately, many organizations are still not getting the message about the steps they can take to prevent data breaches,” Wade Baker, Verizon’s director of risk intelligence, said in the report.
Businesses of all sizes can take measures to safeguard their information from prying eyes. Here are 10 cost-effective ways to protect your small business from cyber attacks.