A cyber attack could force you to close your business. Here’s how to prevent it.

What you can’t see can hurt your business.

For many small business owners, cyber risk is not on their radar. Most companies know they have to pay attention to cyber security, but there is always something tangible to shift focus elsewhere like customers, payroll and inventory.

Here is something to think about from the US Security and Exchange Commission: Six out of 10 small businesses hit with a cyber attack close their doors for good within six months.

Got your attention with that piece of data?

Like preparing for a weather event that could affect your business operations, you need to plan for a cyber attack against your business. And that’s especially true if you operate a business in the metro areas of Las Vegas, Memphis, Houston, Providence or Charlotte.

Why? Businesses in those areas are more likely to be hit with cyber attacks than any other metro areas in the United States. In a recent report by the Coronet, international security firm, more than 1 million data endpoints were examined to determine the vulnerability level of infrastructure and devices. The threat score index was 0 to 10 with the unacceptable exposure score being above 6.5. The threat score for those cites was between 9.0 and 10.00.

What makes these cities high risk?

Overall, small businesses tend to have less awareness and fewer resources for cybersecurity than larger enterprises. Small companies have embraced technology to allow them to sell their products and services. But, unintentionally increasing their risk level along the way are BYOD (bring-your-own-device) policies and remote employees.

So what makes these cities a higher risk specifically?

People + industries + underfunded cybersecurity budgets =cyber-attacks.

Las Vegas, being one of the world’s top destinations for trade shows, creates a golden opportunity for cyber criminals. Think about all that public Wi-Fi available in the casinos, restaurants and hotels. So if you are attending a conference in Las Vegas, then there is a 43 percent probability of connecting to a high-risk network. Memphis, Charlotte, and Houston are home to large enterprises. FedEx is in Memphis. One of the US’s largest banks, Bank of America, is based in Charlotte. Mecklenburg County, where Charlotte is located, recently dealt with a crippling ransomware attack costing it millions of dollars. Houston is an oil and energy center. Healthcare is Rhode Island’s fastest growing industries making Providence a target for cyber-attacks to obtain online patient records.

What are the top cyber threats to small businesses?

According to computer security company Alien Vault, they are:

Phishing. This is when hackers send emails implying to be from a reputable company to persuade individuals to reveal personal information, such as passwords and credit card numbers.

Ransomware. This is a type of malicious software usually downloaded innocently by a user designed to block access to a computer system until a sum of money sent.

The Cloud. Due to the cloud being new to businesses, there could be security risks at the vendor leaving your business and customer data open.

What can you do to prevent cyber attacks?

The first step is understanding that cybersecurity is more than an technology issue, but a public relations crisis. It is a risk to the business.

When there are cyber attacks and data compromised, it affects consumer trust and the organization’s reputation within its industry and with its customers. They will be asking how, why and what’s next. How you communicate the what’s next is just as essential as the steps you are taking behind the scenes security-wise to protect the organization.

With awareness of the cyber risks facing your business, you can be ready for cyber attacks.