Cybercriminality has become increasingly rife in recent years as companies become more and more dependent on technology for their business and a remote workforce. Small businesses especially are a prime target for cybercriminals. Here we share how to stay vigilant as a small business and reduce digital security risks for your company.
How common are cyber attacks on small businesses?
Small businesses often, wrongly, assume that due to the size of their company, they are an unlikely target for cybercriminals. However, that is not the case. Cybersecurity expert Joseph Steinberg suggests that around 50% of cyber attacks are targeting small businesses.
Although it may often not seem like it, small businesses are vital in today’s economy, responsible for over 50% of all sales in the US, 21% of all manufactured exports and responsible for employing 57% of the private workforce in the US (54.4 million people) (data from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration).
Why are small businesses a target?
There are many reasons why small businesses might be a target. Unlike bigger companies, small businesses typically work on a smaller budget. This means that they may not have invested in large-scale cyber security solutions or training, making their data vulnerable to hackers.
Also, small businesses are typically in the stage of establishing their brand meaning that reputation is everything; a cyber security scandal for a company just starting out can mean that a company’s reputation is killed before they even get started. Thus, small business owners typically pay ransom to hackers.
Although small businesses have fewer clients than larger companies, they will still have valuable data and sensitive information on file, both personal and financial. Additionally, they tend to work with other businesses meaning that if a hacker gains access to the small businesses’ data, they will also have access into other businesses.
What are the key cybersecurity threats for small businesses?
Cybersecurity threats are becoming increasingly sophisticated and harder to detect. However, there are many different types of threat that could be a risk factor for small businesses. These include malware, viruses, ransomware and phishing.
Malware, which can include viruses and ransomware, is software which is specifically designed to cause damage to a device, a server or a network and compromise the system to give hackers access. Phishing, on the other hand, uses a malicious link to infect your system or collect sensitive information.
What can small businesses do to reduce their risk?
One of the key things that small businesses can do to protect themselves is make sure their staff are trained on best cybersecurity practices. Hackers tend to identify weak links in the company chain and it just takes one careless worker to compromise a company’s entire system.
Working alongside a third-party risk assessment company or cybersecurity consulting firm can be invaluable for small businesses to help them identify any risks. These companies often run hack simulations to see how a hacker may view the company. There is also a business case to offer online courses or training for your team, to keep them up-to-date with cybersecurity threats and how to avoid these.
Exercises such as this help companies make their security more watertight and protect themselves from risks they may not have even imagined. Not only do these companies identify risks, they also equip the companies with certain strategies to protect themselves.
Standard cybersecurity practices such as regularly changing passwords, installing and updating antivirus software and backing up data should be implemented at a company-wide level.
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