According to a Symantec report, small businesses are increasingly targeted by cyber criminals. For example, small businesses were targeted about 18% of the time back in 2011. Jump ahead only five years, and the rate had risen to 43%. These stark statistics underscore the fact that if you’re a small business owner, you are likely to deal with a cyber attack of some sort in 2018. The security experts from IBM caution that criminals are constantly evolving their tactics. Threats include phishing, identity theft, malware, domain hijacking, and illegal uses of personal information. But what are the key security areas to be aware of in 2018? IBM suggests that cloud storage is becoming an increased liability. As more small businesses move to cloud computing systems, it stands to reason that criminals will put more attention into exploiting any vulnerabilities in such systems. While cloud storage offers some definite benefits, it’s important to remember that it’s anything but impervious to criminals. And as a cloud customer, you have very little visibility into whether your cloud provider is actually using smart data handling practices. It becomes paramount, then, that you choose a trustworthy cloud service - a company that actually has the resources and experience to detect threats and keep your data secure. Another danger facing your business in 2018 is ransomware. Here’s how it works: victims are duped by a phony email and click something, allowing a virus to enter their computer. Their data is then locked, and they have to pay a “ransom” in order to have it released. It’s a type of crime that you’ll be hearing about more and more in the future. A report from eWeek.com says that ransomware-related threats like WannaCry and NotPetya, which wreaked havoc worldwide last year, “will be a common feature of the next 12 months.” The experts from IBM agree with this assessment, pointing out that more than 90% of phishing emails now contain ransomware. Small businesses are particularly vulnerable, because it’s not just your data that criminals are after. You likely have customer information as well. So you need to be extra careful of phishing scams that could trick you into unleashing ransomware into your system. The bottom line is that cyber criminals are getting more sophisticated every day. Gone are the days when phishing emails looked like art projects made by hasty sixth graders. By staying vigilant, and paying attention to key areas of focus in 2018, you can help prevent crime at your business. You owe it to yourself, as these crimes can be financially devastating. Also, you owe it to your customers, who have entrusted you with their personal data.