Why Cybersecurity Is Important For Small Businesses
There is a common misconception, amongst many small business owners, that their businesses are too small to be concerned with cybersecurity.
For this reason, spending on protecting their servers and the likes, seems to be a waste of resources.
This is a big mistake that many have paid for dearly.
As attackers increasingly automate attacks, it’s easy for them to target hundreds, if not thousands, of small businesses all at once. And sadly, small businesses have become fodder for most attackers: no thanks to the often poor technological defense, ignorance regarding threats, and less time and resources to invest in cybersecurity.
Why is cybersecurity important to small businesses?
Now, this is a valid question. Because since it’s a small business, what will hackers be looking for, right? They run on a small budget, with just enough to cover bills and bring in a little profit.
What small business owners are unaware of, is that they are still lucrative targets regardless of their size. They are in control of swathes of customers’ money and data — which they are mandated to protect.
It even gets worse.
Small businesses typically have connections with larger companies. Hence, their vulnerable cybersecurity architecture can be used by hackers to target those larger companies.
Additionally, cyber-attacks on small businesses account for an average loss of 2.5 million in businesses with less than 500 employees. Such a loss can prove to be devastating to small businesses, just struggling to get off the ground. Or remain afloat, considering the economic downturn caused by the pandemic.
For these reasons, it is wise for every small business to be aware of the threats and how to stop them. Moreover, since you pay attention to the security of your physical location, it makes sense to secure your digital space, right?
This article will cover the top 3 security threats facing businesses, and how small businesses can protect themselves.
1) Malware Attacks
Malware encompasses a variety of cyber threats such as trojans and viruses.
It’s an umbrella term for malicious code that hackers create to gain access to networks, steal data, or destroy data on computers. This attack begins with downloads from malicious websites, spam emails, or connecting to infected machines or devices.
They cause businesses to incur unnecessary costs which are needed to repair devices. They can also give attackers a back door to access data, which can put customers and employees at risk. Small businesses are more likely to employ people who use their own devices for work, as it helps to save time and cost. This, however, increases their likelihood of suffering from a malware attack, as personal devices are much more likely to be at risk from malicious downloads.
Businesses can prevent malware attacks by having strong technological defenses in place. These include antiviruses that monitor, and remove such malware.
2) Phishing Attacks
This is one of the biggest cyber threats to small businesses.
According to recent reports, phishing accounts for 90% of all breaches that organizations face, and they account for over $12 billion in business losses.
Phishing attacks occur when an attacker pretends to be a trusted contact and entices a user to click a malicious link, download a malicious file, or give them access to sensitive information, account details, or credentials.
Phishing attacks have grown much more sophisticated in recent years, with attackers becoming more convincing in pretending to be legitimate business contacts. There has also been a rise in Business Email Compromise, which involves bad actors using phishing campaigns to steal business email account passwords from high-level executives, and then using these accounts to fraudulently request payments from employees.
Part of what makes phishing attacks so damaging is that they’re very difficult to combat. They use social engineering to target humans within a business, rather than targeting technological weaknesses. However, there are technological defences against phishing attacks.
Having a strong email security gateway in place can prevent phishing emails from reaching your employees’ inboxes. Post-delivery protection is also crucial to secure your business from phishing attacks. These solutions allow users to report phishing emails and then allow admins to delete them from all user inboxes.
Finally, it is important to train your employees to be able to identify phishing attacks and actions to take when they identify one.
3) Weak Passwords
Another big threat facing small businesses is employees using weak or easily guessed passwords. Many small businesses use multiple cloud-based services, that require different accounts. These services often can contain sensitive data and financial information. Using easily guessed passwords, or using the same passwords for multiple accounts, can cause this data to become compromised.
Small businesses are regularly at risk from compromises that come from employees using weak passwords, due to an overall lack of awareness about the damage they can cause. An average of 19% of enterprise professionals use easily guessed passwords or share passwords across accounts, according to a recent report.
To ensure that employees are using strong passwords, users should consider business password management technologies. These platforms help employees to manage passwords for all their accounts, suggesting strong passwords that cannot be easily cracked. Businesses should also consider implementing Multi-Factor Authentication technologies. These ensure that users need more than just a password to have access to business accounts. This includes having multiple verification steps, such as a passcode sent to a mobile device. These security controls help to prevent attackers from accessing business accounts, even if they do correctly guess a password.
I could go on and on: the list of cyber threats is endless. No business — small or large — is immune from cyberattacks.
So, what should you do?
Shore up your security systems. Hire a cybersecurity expert, either in-house or outsourced.