Verizons annual "Data Breach Investigations Report" includes some sobering findings that show just how pervasive social and political hacking has become. So-called hacktivism was responsible for 58 percent of all data stolen in 2011. Nearly 80 percent of attacks were opportunistic, and most significant of all, 96 percent were avoidable.
The primary motive for external data breaches was financial gaincompanies were hacked to get at credit card or other personal data that could then be used to steal money, secrets or other valuable resources, according to the report.
But thats not whats really scary.
Buried deep within the Verizon report (scroll down to page 61 if youve followed the link above) youll find a section on recommendations, and there youll find a simple pie chart showing that the fixes for 63 percent of all organizations are simple and cheap. Most of the rest are a little harder, but they are still within the capabilities of even the smallest companies.
Worse, the preventive measures are things that security experts have been saying for more than a decade, starting from the days of the first viruses and the first efforts at social engineering to distribute malware.
The simplest solution of allbuy a firewall.
Apparently, small businesses around the world simply havent been paying attention and still havent gotten even the most basic message about security. That message is simple: A firewall makes it harder for a hacker or automated malware to break into your computer, and if its hard to do, then the vast majority of opportunistic hackers will move on to the low-hanging fruit of unprotected computers.
The secondchanging the defaultsis even cheaper because it costs nothing, and the people who sell firewalls have tried to automate the process for you when you set them up.
That means dont use the default service set identifier (SSID) on your wireless router (seeing a router named Linksys tells a hacker that you havent changed anything including the password), turn on WiFi Protected Access (WPA) encryption, and change the password. If you follow the instructions on that one-page getting started poster that comes with wireless routers, the built-in wizard will lead you through all this.
For small businesses, the third step should be a no-brainer, but apparently its not.