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Small Business , Technology – December 10, 2019

A Single Cybersecurity Breach Can Cost Your Business Up To $188K

Photos: Getty Images

In 2017, the Better Business Bureau launched a cyber crime initiative to combat growing attacks on businesses, citing a study by the National Small Business Association. The study showed that cyber-attacks could cost as much as $188,242 for a small or mid-size business.

Hawaii Business recently reported that 71 percent of cybersecurity breaches target small businesses and that these types of attacks increased by 45 percent in recent years.

We spoke to Roseann Freitas, Hawaii Marketplace Manager for Better Business Bureau® (BBB) Northwest + Pacific, to learn more about the potential threats and why it’s imperative that local businesses take a proactive approach to cybersecurity—before it’s too late.


Why should local businesses take control of their cybersecurity?

Cybersecurity attacks are a scammer’s way of trying to steal money or data from your business–or even from your customers. A scammer’s success could be a business’ demise. The Better Business Bureau® warns it is paramount for small business owners to implement necessary cybersecurity policies and practices. And they must also take the time to educate themselves and their staff. Not just so the IT guy doesn’t have to go it alone, but because everyone in a business plays a role in security. To better guard your business and hire the right people to help, you need to understand the risks.


How do business protections differ from the steps an individual might take to protect their data and identity?

While an individual is trying to protect themselves, businesses are not only protecting their information, but also the information of all their clients or customers.


What types of cyber threats are plaguing local companies?

The top business scams in Hawaii, reported on the BBB Scam Tracker, are phishing, online purchasing, and tax collection.

Phishing scams are disguised in an email asking the receiver to open an attachment or click on a link. By doing either activity, the scammer can download malware to your computer and steal your business information.

Online purchasing impacts a business when they purchase from an unknown entity. Via a fake website, the scammer receives business and financial information, which can result in financial losses.

In a tax scam, the business receives a call from a government imposter indicating they owe taxes and will have their license suspended if they don’t pay.


What does the Better Business Bureau view as the greatest cyber threat?

For business owners, probably one cyberattack BBB sees the most of is malware, which is sent via a link or attachment to an employee’s email. When it’s opened a virus is downloaded onto the business’s computer system, compromising the business’ data in some way or giving the scammer access. Therefore, it’s critical to train employees.

What are the possible outcomes for a Hawaii business whose data has been breached?

Depending on the type of cyberattack, the negative outcomes can include financial losses, loss of account information, compromised systems, loss of access to software, accounts, and information on company computers. One of the biggest reasons to protect your business from cyberthreats as a small business is the risk to your business your company’s reputation and the potential loss of customers.


What are the best practices that you recommend for small businesses in Hawaii?

Cybersecurity is not only about adding layers of security technology. It starts with an understanding of managing cybersecurity risks. BBB has developed a 5-Step Approach to Better Business Cybersecurity to help business owners do just that. This model helps business owners:

  • Understand how best to identify and protect vital data and technology assets
  • Learn to detect and respond to cybersecurity threats
  • Recover from a cybersecurity incident

The 5-step approach to cybersecurity, along with other helpful resources, can be found on our website at


What should local businesses and their employees look out for?  

The three T’s are crucial for businesses to reference in helping their employees to protect the company.

  • Transparency – Make transactions a transparent event, where a manager or employee must check with others before making a significant transaction or releasing information.
  • Train – Businesses must train employees on scams and how to handle the situation; this is not static but an on-going need.
  • Talk – Continuous talk and implementation of procedures that will help keep employee, business, and customer information secure.


Does the BBB offer any advice, resources or tools to help local businesses protect themselves against cyber threats?

The Better Business Bureau® offers many tips, tools, and advice to small businesses to help protect them against cyber threats. Those resources include the BBB Cybersecurity Program.

This program aims to help businesses better manage cyberattacks and learn from industry best practices while assisting small businesses to explore the real and perceived risks of cyberattacks. This program also offers education and awareness. At the BBB, we understand that cybersecurity is a complex topic for businesses and the community.


Other Cybersecurity Resources for Small Businesses: 

Federal Communications Commission – 10 Cyber Security Tips for Small Business
Small Business Administration – Top Ten Cybersecurity Tips
Federal Trade Commission – Cybersecurity for Small Business


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