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Small Business Cybersecurity A Beginners Guide

Small Business Cybersecurity: A Beginner’s Guide

Small enterprises, as well as large corporations and governments, can suffer from cyber threats. A study found that 69% of small businesses are concerned about impending hacks and that nearly 50% had already experienced one. Small firms should be aware of cybersecurity threats and apply workable security solutions to protect their operations from invasions.

Employee records, consumer data, information from loyalty programs, transactional data, and data collecting are all significant pieces of information businesses need to protect. This prevents users from using the data for nefarious purposes such as identity theft and phishing scams.

Ready to learn more about small business cybersecurity and its importance? Keep reading!

Do Small Businesses Need to Worry About Cybersecurity?

The short answer is yes.

Cybersecurity covers various strategies, practices, and software tools employed to protect your business’s computer systems from online threats. These elements work together to lessen the likelihood that your company’s data may be compromised.

If small business owners do not employ basic cybersecurity tactics, they can expose their important IT assets to risks like fraud or theft. Recognizing, investigating, and handling cyber threats with little to no damage to your crucial assets is possible when you have a well-defined cybersecurity policy for organizations. 

Whether you utilize cloud computing or just email and a website for business, you are vulnerable to many dangers that are constantly changing and getting more potent. Cybercriminals dedicate their full time to it, looking for new ways to crack codes and reveal vulnerabilities, even in small organizations, because they think small businesses won’t be as ready to fend off the attack.

Small Business Cybersecurity Statistics

Do you still need convincing of how critical cybersecurity is for small and medium businesses? Here are a few numbers and figures for you to consider:

  • Small and medium businesses lose an average of around 3 million dollars per incident due to data breaches alone. (IBM, 2022)
  • Approximately 88% of small and medium business owners believe they are constantly at risk of cyber threats and attacks. (Small Business Administration)
  • More than 42% of business owners and entrepreneurs have no response plans for cyber-attacks and threats. (CNBC, 2021)
  • According to a Verizon report, only 22% of small and medium businesses encrypt their data to prevent breaches. (Verizon)
  • 51% of small business owners pay the ransom when their company is targeted by ransomware. (CNBC, 2021)
  • Employees of small businesses are targeted by social engineering attacks or cybersecurity threats 350% more frequently than larger firms. (Barracuda, 2022)
  • 47% of small companies with fewer than 50 employees do not have cybersecurity budgets. (Corvus Insurance, 2022)
  • 12% of small businesses in a survey reported they had endured cyberattacks. 90% suffered income losses, 24% reported reputation damage, and 16% had to deal with clientele losses as a result, according to the poll. (Digital, 2022)
  • 40% of small companies that were attacked online experienced downtime o eight hours or longer. (CISCO)

COVID-19 Impact On Small Business Cybersecurity

During COVID-19, a record number of companies launched their online presence. The epidemic also strained finances, exposed significant IT skill shortages, and highlighted how many businesses are unprepared to address today’s cybersecurity demands.

High-risk industries like healthcare, finance, and information technology (IT) focused more on data protection and insurance against cyberattacks before the pandemic. However, this is no longer the case due to the growth of online shopping.

The same remote working practices from the lockdown are still in use today despite the conclusion of the epidemic, rendering small and mid-sized businesses more vulnerable to data intrusions than they were in 2019. The usage of less secure networks and cloud computing services raises the risk of malicious attacks. If the current pace continues, small businesses could incur between 56,000 and 86,000 attacks in 2022.

Here is what you need to keep in mind for cybersecurity threats post the COVID-19 era:

Understand What the Risks Are

Phishing scams are simple, affordable, and effective. The biggest concern is criminal gangs because they typically cause the most harm. Because phishing scams are known to have been the origin of more than 80% of cyberattacks, they are the criminals’ preferred method of attack.

Always Have Backups

Regularly back up your data and store the backup copies outside your network. With the emergency response plan you’ve developed and the fact that you will only lose a minimal quantity of data in the case of an assault, you should be able to contain the attack and quickly get back to business as usual.

Almost often, there are options for most difficulties. As businesses providing traditional in-person services unavoidably suffer, digital enterprises are experiencing more sales. When companies accept and use secure digitization, they can innovate, update and secure their systems and processes.

Stay Alert On All Fronts

Knowledge workers’ usage of remote work has significantly expanded and is likely to continue. As a result, at-home workers need stronger antivirus software and better behaviors, even though the enterprise-level networks to which remote employees connect require much more compelling user authentication and threat detection or deterrence for systems and servers. Due to the rapid growth of enterprise cloud usage, this is even more crucial.

Beware of the Phishing Attacks

Phishing attacks on SMBs have reached a three-year high since 2016, according to an APWG report from 2019. All indications are that the trend will continue as small and medium businesses struggle through future waves of the coronavirus epidemic. Phishing attempts were at their highest level for SMBs before the pandemic. Social engineering is mainly used in phishing and harmful email approaches during this crisis to trick unprepared individuals into disclosing crucial information.

Examples of Cyber-Attacks On Small Businesses in 2022 

A common misconception for small businesses is that they are too small to be a target. Sadly, that is not the case. Threats to cyber security may impact both large and small enterprises.

Attackers can now target hundreds or even thousands of small businesses at once as attacks grow more automated. Small businesses usually have less robust technology defenses, a lower risk awareness level, and less funding available for cybersecurity. They, therefore, present a less complicated hacking target than larger companies.

Here are some of the most common cyber threats that small and medium businesses might face if they go easy on cybersecurity:

Malware Attacks  

Malware is one of the top threats for small and medium businesses. It comprises a variety of internet threats like malware and viruses. To break into networks, steal data, or alter computer files, hackers build malware, which is malicious software. Malware frequently originates from links to other hacked systems or devices, spam emails, or downloads from malicious websites.

These attacks can render devices useless and force the need for expensive repairs or replacements, which is especially bad for small businesses. Additionally, they might give hackers access to data through the back door, endangering customers and employees. Small firms are more likely to hire employees who bring their own gadgets to work since it saves them time and money. Personal devices are considerably more susceptible to infiltration by fraudulent downloads, which increases the possibility of falling prey to a malware attack.

Weak Passwords

Small businesses face a severe threat from employees who use weak or obvious passwords. Many small businesses use various cloud-based services, each requiring a different account. These services usually contain sensitive information as well as financial details. This information could be compromised if weak passwords are used on multiple accounts or the same password is used on multiple accounts.

Employees who routinely use weak passwords put small businesses at risk for hacks because they are typically ignorant of the damage they might cause. On average, industry professionals use passwords that are easy to guess or share passwords across accounts by 19%.

Insider Breaches & Threats

Employees, former personnel, contractors, visitors, and associates can all be insider threats. These people have access to crucial information about your company, and they could hurt you out of greed, malice, or even plain carelessness. 25% of data breaches were caused by insider threats, according to a Verizon study.

This issue is worsening and might put customers and employees at risk or affect the company’s finances. Insider threats are becoming increasingly prevalent in small firms as more employees have access to several accounts containing more data.

Phishing Attacks

Phishing attacks are the biggest, riskiest, and most pervasive to small businesses. 90% of breaches against SMEs are due to phishing, which has increased by 65% in the past year and costs businesses over $12 billion in sales. Phishing attacks happen when a perpetrator poses as a reliable source and convinces a victim to access a malicious file, click on a malicious link, or divulge private data like login credentials or account information.

Attackers are improving their level of persuasion when they pose as trustworthy business partners, which has greatly escalated the difficulty of phishing schemes in recent years.

Ransomware Attacks

Ransomware, one of the most common cyberattacks, impacts thousands of enterprises annually. These attacks have increased in frequency since they are among the most profitable kinds of attacks. Corporate data is encrypted by the ransomware so that it cannot be used or accessed, and the company is then required to pay the ransom to have the data decrypted. Therefore, businesses must make a difficult choice: either pay the ransom and risk potentially losing vast sums of money or risk having the quality of their services affected by losing data.

Businesses should consider implementing a dependable cloud backup solution. By safely storing corporate data on the cloud, these applications lessen the risk of data loss. Numerous data backup methods are available to organizations, so choosing the one that will work best for you is crucial.

Vishing Attacks

In a phishing attack, callers and voicemails are tricked into providing personal information. A combination of the words voice and phishing, the term primarily relates to fraudulent calls.

With the help of cutting-edge phone technologies like caller ID spoofing, phishing scams are becoming increasingly convincing. Scammers typically assume the identity of your bank or credit card company and claim an issue with your account or payment. Due to the COVID-19 epidemic, which requires employees to work from home, phishing has become a significant problem for organizations. This is so that hackers can remotely assume the identities of payroll or tech support departments.

Ensuring The Alleviation  Of Cyber-Threats for Small & Medium Businesses

Consider providing your employees with cybersecurity training to safeguard themselves from internal threats. For instance, instruct staff members on the value of having secure passwords and how to recognize phishing emails. Create clear policies for managing and securing sensitive data, including client information.

Examine potential risks that could jeopardize your business’s networks, systems, and data security. Identifying and evaluating possible risks may help develop a plan to close security holes. Only deploy antivirus software that can defend against phishing attacks, viruses, spyware, ransomware, and other threats on your devices. In addition to protection, the application should have technology that enables you to clean devices as necessary and restores them to their pre-infected state. 

Protect yourself from the most recent online threats and fix any bugs by keeping your antivirus software updated.

Final Thoughts

Small businesses today face many hazards. Implementing a full suite of security solutions and using security awareness training to make sure that people are aware of risks and how to avoid them are the best ways for businesses to safeguard themselves against these threats. Expert Insight is an excellent tool for assisting businesses in finding the best security products and services.

It’s possible to monitor your company’s cyber security with the help of efficient implementation and risk management. To be sure of this, firms can detect any gaps and weaknesses by conducting a cybersecurity assessment. Enterprises must then identify the issues and take strategic action.

Awareness of cybersecurity issues is crucial to lowering the risks that could lead to data breaches. Safer practices and increased awareness increase trust among an organization’s stakeholders, employees, and customers. As a result, more people know security techniques, best practices, safe apps, and new technologies.

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