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    Los Angeles Times: Small firms learn size doesn’t matter to hackers

    The Los Angeles Times reports that small companies are learning about the dangers of attacks on their security technology by criminals:

    It took all of three minutes for the hacker to break into the small accounting firm’s computer system. The virtual open window into the system turned out to be a computer equipped with outdated software. It provided access to the office network and the hacker was able to get files that included private financial information. […]

    Luckily, it was just a test. The hacker had been employed by a security company to test the accountants’ digital defenses. As a result, the firm put in new software and adopted new security procedures. […]

    At a cyber-security conference last week sponsored by the Federal Communications Commission, the government agency cited a 2010 survey by Symantec Corp. of small and medium-size companies. Symantec, which sells anti-virus software, said that about 73% of the businesses in the study reported they had been targets of cyber attacks in the last year. […]

    Taking precautions against cyber thieves not only is an act of self-protection but also might be a requirement for winning new clients.

    An increasing number of corporations are requiring that companies they hire as contractors, no matter how small, have digital defenses in place. This is especially true in the healthcare and financial services industries, where consumer privacy laws are being strengthened. […]

    Even if a hacker attack does not result in funds being stolen, a security breach can be costly to a business if customers’ financial information is exposed. Laws in many states, including California, require that every person whose information might have been compromised must be notified. In some cases, these customers must be offered some form of digital protection for a certain amount of time in case a hacker eventually tries to use the private data.

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