The Dangers of Cyberattacks to Small Businesses (And How to Mitigate Them)
by Paula Kubo, on May 5, 2021 8:37:58 AM
Cases of cyberattacks are continuously growing, especially against small businesses. Malicious agents take advantage of the fact that most small organizations do not have the resources or cybersecurity implementation to protect their systems.
Based on the Hiscox Cyber Readiness Report, the average cost of a single cyberattack incident is now just under $200,000. This is a financial setback that the majority of small businesses would have difficulties recovering from.
Top Cybersecurity Threats for Small Businesses
Small businesses arguably have the most to lose if they are hit with a harmful cyberattack. Hence, small firms must be knowledgeable about the possible types of cyberattacks or threats they could face.
Phishing attacks are the biggest and most damaging threat small businesses face. According to Deloitte, 91% of all cyberattacks begin with a phishing email to an unexpecting victim. The breaches generally occur when a malicious agent is disguised as a trusted contact, enticing a user to click on a questionable link or download a harmful file.
Malware encompasses different cyber threats like viruses and trojans. This term is used to describe malicious code that attackers create to obtain access to networks and compromise data in computers. Malware often originates from unsafe website downloads, spam emails, or infected devices.
Ransomware is a form of malware designed to encrypt data and lock users out of important company resources and systems, rendering the encrypted files useless without a decryption key and forcing a business to pay a ransom to unlock their compromised data. This situation leaves companies with a challenging decision — either lose money by giving in to the demands of the hacker or paralyze operations due to data loss. (Download our Ransomware Prevention Checklist for more tips on preventing ransomware attacks.)
Many small businesses utilize different cloud-based services which can contain sensitive information and financial data. Using weak passwords that are short in length or simple in nature, or using the same passwords across different accounts, can result in data being more easily compromised.
Insider threats are risks caused by the actions of past or current employees. These individuals usually have access to important company data, and if they are careless or have malicious intent, they can easily compromise confidential company files and information.
How to Prevent Cyberattacks on Small Businesses
Small businesses must take proactive measures to mitigate the potential damage that can be caused by cyberattacks.
Passwords must be unique and updated regularly
The first step in your cybersecurity plan should be to ensure that passwords used by everyone in your company are strong, unique, and changed regularly. Numerous password security solutions are available on the market and utilize password generation technology to create secure passwords for your accounts. These credentials are often a combination of lowercase and uppercase letters, numbers, and symbols, for the highest security.
Consider managed IT services
Managed services providers (MSPs) offer numerous benefits to small businesses, especially when it comes to cybersecurity and data security. From the close monitoring of network changes or breach attempts to rapid incident response, managed IT services have become vital for businesses requiring quality solutions that don't break the bank.
Back up data in a cloud-based or offsite server
MSPs often host your data in a virtual server environment — facilities that observe international security and control standards. This keeps your data safe in a remote facility, so should a breach or disaster occur in your office, you can still recover quickly and get back to business.
Install secure software and perform regular updates
Making sure that you only install trusted and authentic software, such as those with a Code Signing Store certification, is critical to minimize the risks of software vulnerabilities in your system. As an extension, you must also guarantee that all computers and applications used in your organization are up-to-date.
Educate employees about phishing schemes
Phishing accounts for over 90% of cyberattacks on small businesses and can affect all of your employees. Training and educating your staff to be discerning regarding electronic messages they receive is a must to prevent your company from being the subject of a phishing attack.
Preventative security is a critical part of a small business continuity plan. However, should the worst-case scenario occur, a reliable backup solution can quickly restore small businesses back to a state of productivity. We invite you to speak with a backup expert for a free evaluation of your environment.