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Cyber Attacks can get everyone

Cybersecurity incidents have been on the rise, and no business is entirely safe from the hacking block. Cybercriminals may primarily target large companies and multinational companies, but smaller enterprises present soft targets. A common but inaccurate belief among many small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) is that the most excellent security vulnerabilities are found in large companies.

Cybercriminals are targeting businesses of any size and with devastating impacts. Small and medium-sized businesses are usually hit hard in several ways, including malware attacks. The motivation is to steal data and customer information, damage reputation, and sabotage the company. Some small businesses are targeted for attacks to act as a conduit to target large enterprises that happen to be their clients.

The common misconception is that small and medium-sized businesses are not very prone to cyber-attacks as large companies. Another misconception is that SMBs do not require the same level of security. These misconceptions, complacency, and weak or non-existent cybersecurity measures make SMBs soft targets for cybercriminals. Criminals are using technology to launch fast and effective attacks and for a small financial reward at a time.

The size of your company or duration in operation or industry of operation doesn’t matter. SMBs, irrespective of the industry, cannot afford to take a reactive wait-and-see approach to cybersecurity. The realization that cyber threats are imminent often comes when it’s too late for small businesses. A majority of SBE may not survive a cyber-attack, and if they do, it may take several years to recover and repair the reputational damage. 60% of small businesses that suffer a cyber-attack fail to heal and collapse. Failure to institute sufficient cybersecurity measures will make your business an easy target for cyber-attacks. 

Why SMBs Should Take Cyber Security Seriously?

The same reasons cybercriminals target large successful companies apply for SMBs. Any successful business today is focused on revenue growth. It is becoming increasingly reliant on the internet to perform everyday tasks and store sensitive data, which makes it attractive to criminal enterprises. The global cybercriminal enterprise is estimated to have reached $1.5 trillion and still growing.

SMBs may lack adequate funds and human resources to deploy robust cybersecurity measures. 

SMBs are a soft target and are seeing repeated incidents of spyware, hacker intrusion, malware, ransomware, spam, and viruses. Any cybersecurity incident can cause downtime, loss of sales, loss of data, impact productivity, and inflict reputational damage. Cybercriminals find a path of least resistance – they do not have to contend with layers of complex security systems deployed by large companies. 

SMBs need similar levels of protection as large businesses. The security systems must not be as expensive or convoluted as those adopted by large companies. However, SMBs need a robust all-in-one security solution that serves their cybersecurity needs. Managed service providers (MSPs) offer all-in-one security solutions for SMBs and monitoring and training programs to address their cybersecurity needs.

Common ways hackers may target small and medium-sized businesses:

  • Social engineering: Hackers exploit human nature to hoodwink people into downloading malware or giving their login details to steal data or gain access to a network. 
  • Watering hole attacks: Hackers seek to use another company’s services to gain access to a larger company through unsecured sites. 
  • Damaging business reputations: A data breach may irreparably damage the importance of small businesses. All it takes is a few seconds or minutes for a hacker to destroy many years of hard work.
  • Financial Loss: A security breach may put you out of business, especially if finances are involved. Security breaches are also challenging to address. 

Cyber Protection for SMBs

SMBs need to be proactive in preventing cyber-attacks. It is less costly and more comfortable to prevent attacks than to recover from large and smaller businesses. Some measures SMBs can take to protect your network, and business data includes:

  • Install a next-generation firewall – A firewall is the first line of defense for your network. Firewalls ensure that traffic is safe by inspecting data passing through the system.
  • Use updated antivirus software – all users must have updated antivirus software installed to protect files, documents, PCs and stop network intrusions. 
  • Have social media use policies – Cybercriminals are using social media to gather information to improve their attacks. Employees should be trained on how to share information on social media, even on their pages. 
  • Filter email spam – Spam filtering aids in preventing suspicious emails from reaching inboxes. SMBs will be fending off phishing and malware attacks. 
  • SSL inspection: Ensure that you can inspect SSL traffic to prevent attacks and track data employees send outside of the business. 

Small businesses must be ready to ask for help and work with third-party security companies to bolster their cybersecurity efforts. The time factor also comes into play because SMBs may not have in-house security teams. Using third-party security providers such as MSPs will avail their security expertise to provide a dedicated focus on alerts and provide timely responses to malicious activity. The lack of skilled security people in-house will not affect threat identification and prevention.

Nothing could be further from the truth than the misconception that SMBs are safe from cyber-attacks. Cybercriminals are conscious of the challenges faced by small businesses and seek to exploit these weaknesses to their advantage. Your business could be in line for the next attack. 

Protecting your data and preventing attacks should be a priority. It is better to be safe than sorry.

Author: Alessandro Civati