If you wanted to hack a business, which one would you pick: A Fortune 500 company with a large digital-security budget and a team dedicated to protecting its cyberassets? Or a small enterprise that doesn’t employ a single IT security specialist? Of course hackers are equal-opportunity criminals, but you get my point.
Security breaches at big companies such as J.P. Morgan,Sony and Home Depotdominate the headlines, but safety measures are crucial for organizations of all shapes and sizes. According to the 2012 Verizon Data Breach Report, 71% of cyberattacks occur at businesses with fewer than 100 employees. The average cost of a data breach for those small businesses is $36,000.
We can no longer assume that hackers are solitary figures sitting in basements fiddling with their laptops. They may be members of organized-crime groups or employed by nation states, and they have resources that can destabilize entire companies and countries. These hackers constantly look for Internet vulnerabilities. They break through firewalls, infect machines, and use phishing schemes to gain access through emails to people’s passwords and Social Security numbers. They can then leverage weaknesses in applications to cause a database to output its contents.
So what can the owner of a small business do to defend himself? Here are some tips.
Mobile payments will be one of the hottest businesses in 2015 as consumers increasingly swap cash and credit cards for their smartphones. How fast the mobile payment market segment grows, however, will depend on consumer trust, security and ease of use.
While consumer-to-business (C2B) payments have taken off with companies like Apple Pay and PayPal, consumer-to-consumer (C2C) payments are the next frontier.
Reliable statistics on C2C mobile transaction growth are hard to come by. But according to Gartner Research, by 2017 the total worldwide mobile payments market is expected to reach 450 million users (18% growth a year) and be worth $721 billion (35% a year).
The topic of digital security often brings to mind the image of bleak and dark future, where computers, mobile devices and other systems are riddled with malware and cyber criminals lurk, ready to steal our data and crash our systems. We have good reason to be nervous. We’ve seen plenty of cyber-security breaches in the past few years, like credit card thefts at Target and password issues at sites like LinkedIn.
Digital security is a major concern. Few other issues affect everyone, from individuals to companies to entire nations. So what is the future of digital security?
One discussion thread centers on email encryption, prompted by Yahoo joining forces with Google and Microsoft to develop an encrypted email system. While encryption is a step in the right direction, it’s probably not sufficient by itself. In addition to usability issues — like compatibility of platforms and the human tendency to reuse the same basic passwords — email only covers a portion of the digital world. It’s a partial “attack surface.”
One of the big financial stories of 2014 has been Amazon versus its investors. The company’s stock, after climbing nearly 40% in 2013, started to slip early this year, then plunged 11% on the last day of trading in January. Throughout February, the stock remained in the doldrums.
Investors, it seems, are weary of Jeff Bezos’ practice of plowing Amazon’s oversized revenue into secret projects designed to grow the massive company even more. The stock’s big drop in January coincided with the company’s announcement that it planned to raise the price of Amazon Prime, a sign that investors don’t trust management to use whatever money the price hike might generate to benefit shareholders.
The solitary genius, closeted in a lab or garage, creating the next big thing is largely a myth. Important innovation almost always builds upon what came before it. The automobile would not exist if the horse-drawn carriage had not been invented first. We would not be using laser pointers now if early humans had not fashioned torches in experiments with fire.
The most important example of innovation through knowledge sharing today is the open source software movement. Developers are posting code in online communities across the globe, learning from one another and building on each other’s advances. Imitation is not just the sincerest form of flattery. It’s also the best form of innovation.