How To Go Out of Business in Six Months or Less

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There’s an evil lurking about that has its eyes set on your business. If it successfully strikes, there’s a 60% chance you’ll close your doors for good within 6 months. You’re likely ill prepared for this attack, and you may have already been hit and not know it.

Do I have your attention?

I’m talking about cyber attacks.

“Eh, I’m a pretty small company. I don’t think I need to worry all that much about this.”

We hear this a lot, and it’s a huge mistake. The media loves to cover big breaches  — the ones at mega companies like Target and Equifax — because it makes for sensational news. But, the truth is, the most frequent threats actually affect small and medium sized businesses. YOU are at risk far more than large corporations.

“I think I have it covered. I have firewalls, VPNs, antivirus software, malware scanners, strong passwords, great employees. Plus, I work mostly in the Cloud, where safety is pretty much guaranteed. I’m good.”

Actually, you’re not. The more innovative you are and the more you tap into technology and the Internet, the more your risk increases. It’s what cybersecurity experts refer to as your attack surface. The more you put your stuff “out there”, the more at-risk you become. Yes, storing data in the Cloud is more secure than traditional IT, but you still need to control access to the data. Hackers have a unique way of finding your weak spots.

The lack of awareness regarding cyber threats and the complacency most small business owners have towards them is downright scary. The simple facts are:

  1. Almost 50% of small businesses have experienced a cyber attack.
  2. More than 70% of attacks target small businesses.
  3. As much as 60% of hacked small and medium-sized businesses go out of business after six months.

*from the National Cyber Security Alliance Report of 2016

If you think you’re immune to cyber attacks, think again. This report by Symantec, which tracks global cyber threats, is enough to keep you up at night.

So, what can you do to keep your small business safe? It has a lot to do with thinking outside-the-box. Here are a few tips:

  1. Take a lesson from your bank.

    Your bank doesn’t just set up defenses against viruses and malware, set some good passwords, and call it a day. No, they have entire teams dedicated to the “What If?” — teams that implement plans detailing how the bank will respond to a threat when it happens. That’s because the bank knows that having an inadequate response will lead to irreparable damage. That’s an important concept many small business owners miss.

    60% of small to medium sized businesses never recover after suffering a significant cyber attack. They shut their doors for good within 6 months because they simply had no idea what to do once they were attacked. Right defenses weren’t enough to save them, and they aren’t enough to save you.

    When you consider your security strategies, don’t forget to ask the question, “What will we do immediately to shut down the threat and get back up and running as soon as possible?”

  2. Look internally.

    Your greatest security threat comes from within. It’s not always intentional, but who cares? Unintended goofs can be just as costly as intentional hacks.

    Once your systems are in place, everyone in your office needs to be trained up in them and be educated on ways to recognize cyber threats (i.e. the bogus email like this one intended to phish data). Again, this is the step most small business owners miss.

  3. Practice, practice, practice.

    Literally, try and hack yourself. Send the bogus emails and see if employees bite, get tech-savvy assistants to try to break into your systems, have a trusted outsider see how easy it is to reset your passwords. In short, expose your vulnerabilities before someone with ill-intentions does. Practice your response systems. The chaos of an actual attack will be greatly mitigated if you do.


The consequences of a cyber attack are real and potentially devastating. Don’t be caught unaware. You will encounter a threat at some point during your career. The question is, how will you respond to minimize the damage so that you don’t become part of the dreaded 60%?

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