If you own a business, you need to be concerned about the security of your data—particularly the customer data you hold on your website. When hackers manage to compromise that data, it costs you both money and, more important, a severely damaged reputation. Those costs are substantial—for example, a recent study from Lloyd’s of London estimates the cost of hacking attacks to businesses around the world at approximately $400 billion.
But I Own a Small Business—So, I’m Safe, Right?
Wrong. Hackers don’t care how big or small your business is. In fact, most of their attacks are automated—when their bots start trolling the internet, they’re not looking for big businesses; they’re looking for any business which is vulnerable. It’s one of the reasons almost 50% of small businesses experienced a hacking attack in 2013 (figures from the National Small Business Association). Not only are small businesses vulnerable to cyberattacks—those attacks tend to be more devastating for small businesses which frequently don’t have the financial resources to recover.
Forward-Leaning Businesses Are Responding
The good news is that there are proactive steps businesses can take to protect their data. Among the most successful is the use of two-factor authentication (2FA). Whereas previous approaches involved customers verifying their identity with passwords and user IDs, 2FA requires that they provide additional information—information which only the customer knows or possesses. This might be answers to security questions, a PIN number, or even a physical characteristic, like a fingerprint.
How Will Two Factor Authentication Help My Business?
Many small business owners assume implementing a 2FA protocol will be too expensive for their companies—for most, the cost is less than they think, especially considering how much a hack of their computer systems would cost them. Cost-effectiveness, however, is just one of the benefits of implementing 2FA—here are 4 others:
- Your data will be more secure: customer passwords and user IDs are notoriously vulnerable and easy to hack—especially when customers choose easy-to-guess passwords like “123456” and “password.” An additional vulnerability comes when people write down their passwords (in either online or physical files) where thieves and cyberthieves can discover them. 2FA makes data more secure with the use of one-time passwords (OTPs) and physical characteristics (like fingerprints and voice recognition) which are more difficult or impossible to crack.
- You’ll boost your customer reputation: most consumers don’t mind inputting additional information if it means their data is more secure. In fact, they appreciate the fact that businesses would go to the trouble of protecting their personal information and tend to reward the companies which do so with increased loyalty. That means better customer retention—and higher sales—for you.
- You’ll increase productivity: when you make your data more secure, you can permit your employees to work remotely without fear that doing so will result in a data breach, and that can boost productivity. That’s what happened when Ctrip, a Chinese travel business, permitted its employees to work from home: their productivity increased by more than 13% (Harvard Business Review). In addition, because Ctrip was giving employees an option they wanted, they simultaneously increased employee retention.
- You’ll reduce your operating costs: companies spend a lot of money informing customers about suspicious activity on their user accounts, as well as on helping customers reset their passwords when that kind of activity occurs. When you use a two-factor authentication process, you’ll have less suspicious activity on customer accounts, which means you’ll spend less money on customer service help desks. For some businesses, that reduction in operating costs alone justifies the cost of implementing 2FA.
Still not convinced? Then, consider these head-turning metrics from Small Business Trends:
- 43% of cyber attacks are against small businesses
- Less than 14% of small businesses say they’re “highly effective” at preventing such attacks
- 60% of small companies go out of business within 6 months of a cyber attack
- On average, small businesses which experience a cyber attack spend $879,582 to repair damage to IT assets and $955,429 because of disruption of normal operations
The impact of a cyber attack can be devastating—both financially and in terms of a damaged reputation—and the cost of implementing a 2FA process is relatively small. That makes 2FA a sound investment in the future of your business. To learn more about the ways our cloud, managed hosting, web hosting, and security and compliance services can help you achieved your business objectives and grow your business, contact us today.