From a reputation management perspective, it’s time to take IT security seriously – before it puts you out of business.

The weekend news was dominated by a new worldwide malware breakout, hitting vulnerable computers around the world with ransomware. Affected users received messages along the lines of “Your data has been encrypted, pay us money for the decryption key”.

Today, almost every business is digital. Therefore, small businesses are hit particularly hard by viruses, ransomware, and the like. These companies generally lack the necessary IT skills or awareness – yet still rely on technology to keep their business running – and need to think about their reputation.

Anyone whose computer – or network – or train system, for that matter – was infected by the virus will have found themselves offline. At the same time, they spent several hours, at the very least, working out how to restore their operating system and essential files and remove the malware from their computer(s).

Some things never change: It tends to take a monumental occasion to spur people and organizations into action regarding any IT security or backup. For example, back in 1990, a major UK office building belonging to now-defunct computer company DIGITAL burned to the ground in a spectacular blaze. This was the trigger that finally prompted every other company in town to start thinking about a data backup and recovery plan.

Although it’s easy for businesses stricken by “WannaCry” to blame their computer systems for any interruption to business as usual, it’s a very unwise move. It sends the message that your company is unable to look after its IT.  It’s not about the ransomware, but the fact that malware was able to take hold of your computer systems in the first place. That’s the reputation management angle.

Why? Because for any business that accepts (and stores) its customers’ credit card numbers, or any other sensitive data, admitting that your data has been compromised is probably the worst thing you can do.

It might be a bitter pill for businesses whose computers are affected by WannaCry, or any other malware – but the solution for our digital world is, no matter how small your business, it’s time to step up your IT know-how.