Data breaches not only hurt consumers, but are an expensive nightmare for small businesses, a new study says.

“Twenty one percent of (SMBs) small businesses reported a data breach within the last 24 months, up by 17 percent from two years ago. A full 41 percent of small businesses said they were hit by a breach that cost them more than $50,000 to recover,” according to the Bank of America Merchant Services Third Annual Small Business Spotlight.

These continuing breaches could threaten the average small business’ survival, the study found. That’s because “30 percent of consumers surveyed revealed they would never return to a small business that suffered a breach, up from 20 percent two years ago.”

Some 500 U.S. based small business and some 500 consumers who patronize small firms were surveyed about breaches.

More Frequent Because Cyber Thieves Move Fast

“The breaches continue to rise,” explains a credit card industry expert, “because crooks are smart and find unique ways to work the system to their advantage. Bill Hardekopf, CEO of Low, adds that “when card issuers or payment processors close one loophole, crooks find another. Cyber criminals are smart.”

What should one do?

He advises consumers to check card statements each month. Thieves often place a small transaction that is ignored, he says. “But if that goes through,” Hardekopf adds, “then they put through a much larger transaction.”

And don’t, experts say, depend on businesses to protect you. Some of them aren’t making your security needs a priority.

Indeed, Verizon, in a recent study of the effect of data breaches on businesses in general, warned some don’t take it seriously.

“Organizations are knowingly putting speed and profits before mobile security,” according to the Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report.

“And the consequences are not surprising: Almost a third (32%) admitted to having sacrificed mobile security to improve expediency and/or business performance—38% of those said that their organization is at significant risk from mobile threats,” the report said.

It’s a Great Time to be a Cyber Criminal

And with more people conducting business through mobile devices, criminals are running up big bills, especially in the United States, another report says.

The average cost of a data breach globally is $3.92 million, but in the United States it is more than double that ($8.19 million), according to the IBM Security & Ponemon Institute’s “Cost of a Data Breach Report 2019.

Not only are the costs huge, but it is a problem, the IBM reports says, that tend to sneak up on us; to strike at us in ways few anticipate.

And it takes on average 279 days just to identify a data breach, the report said. The damage is “felt for years after the event.”

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Gregory Bresiger
Gregory Bresiger

Gregory Bresiger is an independent financial journalist from Queens, New York. His articles have appeared in publications such as Financial Planner Magazine and The New York Post. The eBook version of his latest book "MoneySense" is available now for Free Download by clicking HERE

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