Some small business owners are under the impression that hackers won’t target them because they don’t feel they have much to offer in the way of “profitable data”. This is a sensible misconception because the media tends to make a big deal over large data breaches, such as the Target breach and the recent Equifax breach. Plus, small business owners feel so “small” among the big businesses that they don’t believe they would be worth a hacker’s time and effort.
The fact is that small businesses have all sorts of data that hackers find appetizing. For instance, personal or business data exchanged over email can contain information that can give a hacker access to vast financial resources. As a small business owner, you most likely have a healthy sum of money in the bank for expenses, payroll, and inventory. Acquiring your financial information can result in the account being drained and the hacker gaining tens of thousands of dollars. This can cause a small business to go bankrupt if the money isn’t recovered. Those small businesses that don’t go bankrupt spend years recovering from the financial damage.
The above is just an example of why it is important for the small business to have secure email. Unsecured email is where viruses come in. Viruses can acquire stored passwords or financial information. A virus can even read keystrokes to determine account numbers and other sensitive information. There are even times when an entire network becomes infected, making the business even more vulnerable.
What Encrypted Email Does
To give you a better understanding of what encrypted email does, consider this:
You are most likely emailing a lot of invoices, receiving receipts after paying bills, and sending and receiving all sorts of juicy information. Sure, you may not be storing your bank account information in your email, but a good hacker doesn’t need all of those numbers to do some serious financial damage.
A hacker can send you an email that appears to be from a trusted source. That email can contain an attachment that unleashes a virus when opened. As mentioned earlier, viruses can steal information.
When you use encrypted email, the financial information stays out of the hands of criminals because they can’t see what the email says. Even when an account is hacked, the hacker can’t see the email, preventing them from stealing your data. They don’t hold the encryption key, but you do simply by using an encrypted email service. The service also scans for viruses so that infected attachments are caught before you can open them and infect your computer.
How Encrypted Email Keeps You Compliant
Encrypted email can also ensure a small business stays compliant. For instance, you may need to comply with HIPAA if dealing with medical data. If you’re working with financial data, then you need to be GLBA compliant. If you are accepting credit cards, like most small business owners do, then you must be PCI compliant. There are many regulations depending on the industry that you are in and what you do. Part of being compliant is how you communicate with other entities.
In your communications, compliance means you have to protect the data that employees and customers trust you to handle. Encrypted email can help you stay compliant. If information is being passed over insecure email and a hacker intercepts that information, people harmed by the data breach could hold your business liable. A lawsuit can severely harm a small business financially. A data breach can hurt a business’s reputation, which also has a heavy financial impact.
This is something that has been experienced by Equifax. After a massive data breach that affected more than 140 million people, people whose social security numbers and other information were stolen filed lawsuits. They are holding Equifax liable because a data breach indicates that proper security measures were not in place.
Encrypted Email Is the Future
Something else that small businesses need to think about is that encrypted email could become the way of the future. In fact, it is becoming necessary in many instances. For example, the Affordable Care Act requires employee information, such as the 1099-MISC, to be filed securely. This makes sense since tax forms or documents regarding participation in the health care plan contain identifying and sensitive information about people.
The IRS requires information to be transmitted in this way because encrypted email is so secure that even government surveillance programs can’t decipher it. The only people with the key are the sender and the receiver. Unfortunately, there has been a lot of debate about government and law enforcement access. If someone is up to no good and law enforcement needs to read the content of emails, they can’t. On the other hand, most people innocently use their email, particularly small businesses. The fact that most people are innocent is why so many feel the government should stop pursuing the back door to encryption.
The concern is that if there is a doorway for law enforcement or the government, hackers will figure out how to gain access. Hackers figuring out how to break through encryption would seriously compromise the technology. Right now, encryption is the only way a business can ensure its email correspondence is secure, so a back door would compromise security worldwide.
Compromising security on a global level would be devastating since there is a need for encryption everywhere. Not only can email benefit, but consumer devices can use encryption, as well. Many of them do, which is important for the protection of sensitive information. Small businesses may use mobile devices throughout the course of the workday, so, again, there are compliance issues and the fact that a data breach could drive a business into ruin.
Protect Yourself and Your Business
The good news is that with an email encryption service, like that offered by Secure Swis Data, you can protect sensitive information and be compliant. You can protect yourself against data breaches that could result in liability issues for you. As it stands, encryption is the industry standard for data protection, and you can have it in place very quickly.