A recent survey by the Computer Security Institute and the San Francisco FBI's Computer Intrusion Squad revealed two very interesting trends when put side by side. Number one, virus attacks are the leading cause of financial losses among cyber crimes committed against U.S. companies. Number two, 98 percent of the companies and organizations polled for the survey say they use firewalls. Ninety-seven percent use antivirus software.
Virus attacks happen
There's plenty of preventative advice available to protect business owners from a virus attack and even more security products to purchase. But small businesses, in particular, would be wise to also have a crisis plan in place for what some would argue is inevitable.
"Small businesses are more vulnerable to attack," says Ben Rothke, director of security technology implementation at AXA Financial, a New York-based financial services firm, and the author of Computer Security -- 20 Things Every Employee Should Know. Small and mid-size businesses "typically don't have an IT department monitoring their network 24/7."
Signs of a possible virus attack
So what can a company without an IT department do to prepare for the worst? For starters, know enough about viruses to know when the system's been hit.
Once it's been determined the network's been attacked, you need to react. "Simply put, responding to a virus is like fighting a fire," says Devin Jopp, chief technology officer for SCORE, a counseling service for small business owners. Here are some tips for hot to respond to a virus attack.
Don't forget the customers
Michael Shaw, California's assistant state director for the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) advocates full disclosure to customers in the event of a virus attack. "Employers need to have a plan in place to notify customers in case there is an attack that compromises customer information," he says. In a growing number of states, companies are required by law to report data breaches to customers.
Either way, a business owner may be wise to remember that a lost reputation is much harder to replace than lost data.