If you think your business is too small to be of interest to a cybercriminal, think again. While big companies make the headlines for their data breaches, small companies are also an ideal target for hackers. "Small businesses can be a really sweet spot for cybercriminals. They have more money to steal than a consumer and less security in place than a large business," said Kevin Haley, director of security response at Symantec.
The reality is small businesses are the most vulnerable when it comes to cybersecurity, and they are the common prey for hackers and cyber thieves. Unlike big corporations that have the budget to manage their technology risks and put in place fancy sophisticated systems to protect themselves from cyberattacks, small businesses find themselves struggling to protect themselves.
There is hope for small businesses looking to protect themselves. Cyber-attacks are usually caused by vulnerabilities in outdated software, phishing attempts, or ransomware. While these are terrible things that can cripple a business, there are cost-effective ways to manage this risk.
Software updates or “patches” are released to protect your device’s security weaknesses discovered by the software company. You can put your business at risk by failing to update your software regularly. Your device(s) can be accessed, with files locked and rendered useless by hackers who exploit vulnerabilities in unpatched software. In such an instance, client files will be at serious risk, not to mention your business. The simple solution is to patch regularly, but what happens to small businesses whose IT department is already overworked or don’t have an IT department? It is wise to consider outsourcing some or all your business IT needs to a company that specializes in IT services. The key is finding a partner that will tailor a solution to meet your needs and budget.
Cybercriminals use phishing emails to obtain credentials and personal information from companies. A phishing email is a fraudulent email made by a person who passes themselves off as someone you can trust, to obtain sensitive data from you. Credit card information or usernames and passwords are some examples of the type of sensitive data cybercriminals are trying to steal. It is a serious problem, as reported by Proofpoint, as 83% suffered from at least one successful phishing attack in 2021. A further breakdown revealed that 68% of the victims suffered at least one ransomware infection stemming from a direct email payload, second-stage malware delivery, or another exploit.
Phishers are better at disguising themselves. It used to be, that all you had to do was find spelling mistakes in an email to know it was fake. Education is a key to preventing phishing. Educate employees on how to recognize suspicious emails by looking at headers, or by simply highlighting links to show the true domain name. If users still are not sure if they are reading a legitimate email, they need to feel empowered to call “the sender” to ensure that the email is legitimate. If you still have curious staff that wonder “what if”, and must click, anti-spam software can also help, as will having up-to-date anti-virus and anti-malware programs.
Recently, a lot of attention has been paid to the issue of ransomware. A ZDNet article states that ransomware attacks have doubled in 2019. Hackers love this, as it is a low-risk, high payback for them. An interesting statistic revealed by Safe at Last shows that the average ransomware payout is $233,817. Ransomware is a kind of malware that encrypts your files, thus rendering them inaccessible to you. The hacker makes money by informing you that the files are encrypted and the only way you can get access to your files again is to pay for a decryption key. The hacker promises to send a decryption key to access your files once the ransom has been paid.
There are many different opinions on whether businesses should pay or not pay the ransom. Can you trust a criminal to provide you with a decryption key? Who’s to say they won’t do it again? The best protection is to have backups of your files so that if a hacker does encrypt the files on your system, you have copies somewhere else that haven’t been infected that you can still access. Also, having anti-malware software, and firewalls in place will also go a long way to help stop this threat.
As you can see, small businesses are great targets for hackers, as they typically don’t spend a lot on security, but have access to more money than the average consumer. Even though the threat is real, there are things every small business can do to protect themselves, and some of them aren’t that expensive. The reality is, can you afford NOT to invest in cybersecurity?
If your small business is trying to bolster its cybersecurity, contact the experts at QuickProtect. Our small business services are tailored to meet your needs.