The size of your business doesn’t matter to savvy cybercriminals. Here’s how to safeguard your company and your data against unexpected cyber attacks.
Cybercrime is on the rise on an international scale, and no business or entity is safe. Large companies and multinational businesses may be high on cybercriminals’ list of targets, but that certainly doesn’t mean they’re the only entities affected. Small companies are being hard hit by criminal activities too.
Cyber attackers can target businesses of any size in several ways. They disguise malware inside downloadable files, networks, hosts, websites, and emails to break into a security system. From there, they set about stealing data and customer information, sabotaging businesses, and permanently damaging reputations.
It’s commonly thought small to medium businesses (SMBs) are not as prone to cyber threats as their larger counterparts—or that they don’t require the same level of security. This is unfortunately a dangerous misconception!
Small business owners rarely realize that their operations are vulnerable to cybercrime until it’s too late. A study by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission revealed that 60% of small businesses that suffered a cyberattack went out of business within six months.
It doesn’t matter what size your company is, how long you’ve been operating, or what industry you serve. You could be a cyber crook’s next target if you don’t take sufficient precautions.
Why SMBs Need to Be Cautious
Hackers are inclined to target SMBs for a number of specific reasons.
Successful businesses, including smaller ones, work towards revenue growth and mitigating revenue loss, so they can suffer from the same cyber threats that haunt massive enterprises. SMBs are often more attractive targets for many criminals, as they may not have the funds to adopt the same level of security as their larger and wealthier counterparts. This is why SMBs need to manage a range of threats to stay secure.
Businesses of all sizes are dealing with increasing incidences of hacker intrusions, spyware, ransomware and malware issues, viruses, and spam. These issues can lead to computer downtime, stolen or lost business data, impacted productivity, a loss of sales, and even a devastating hit to your reputation that can further affect your financial standing.
The Unique Security Needs of SMBs
Big companies have large amounts of valuable information that hackers find appealing. However, SMBs are even better targets for these criminals as they provide a ‘path of least resistance’, so to speak. They have sufficiently valuable data without the complex security systems of larger corporations, so they’re easier to penetrate.
As challenging as it may seem, this means that small to medium businesses need the same levels of cyber protection as larger businesses. Thankfully, they don’t need to worry about implementing systems with the same costs, or levels of expertise, or convolution.
Your SMB will need security that makes the most of its functions to maintain strong defenses with no dedicated security team. You simply need an all-in-one security solution that works for you.
How Cybercriminals Target You
Hackers or criminals could target your business in several ways. The most common methods include:
- Social engineering. Criminals can take advantage of human nature and con people into offering personal data like login details or downloading malware.
- Watering hole attacks. If your clients include large companies, you are an even more tempting target. These attacks use the services of one company to gain access to larger ones through unsecured sites called watering holes.
- Damaging business reputations. Smaller businesses and their reputations can be hit hard by data breaches [PDF]. It can take years to build a good reputation with clients and customers, but mere seconds for a hacker to destroy all your hard work.
- Financial losses. Security breaches and ransomware attacks could put you out of business for good. They’re costly to address, and even more so if cybercriminals have gained access to your company’s finances.
How to Protect Your Business
The best way to protect your company from cybercrime attacks is to be proactive. It’s easier and less costly to prevent an attack than to recover after the fact. No matter the size of your company, you need to implement systems that spot and block online attacks on your network and business data.
You can secure your business by:
- Installing a next-generation firewall. Firewalls are your first line of defense in keeping your network secure. They inspect data passing through your networks and ensure that all of your traffic is safe.
- Using anti-virus and anti-malware software. All internet and computer users should have up-to-date anti-virus software installed on their devices. This software will guard your documents, files, PC’s, and network against intrusions.
- Keeping an eye on social media. Social websites are a favorite hunting ground of cybercriminals as they can easily gather information to improve their attack success rates. Instruct your employees to be careful about sharing information on social media—even on their personal account pages.
- Fending off email spam. Spam emails can contain a host of dangerous phishing and malware software. Implement spam filtering across your email platforms to prevent suspicious emails from reaching your inbox.
- Implementing SSL inspection. Over 30% of online traffic is encrypted with SSL, and it’s crucial that your company has the ability to inspect SSL traffic. Secure Sockets Layer technology can stop attacks and track any data employees send outside of your business, like leaked passwords, and other personal data.
Many people believe that small to medium businesses are generally safe from cybercrime attacks, as they’re not a worthwhile target for hackers looking for a large payday. However, this could not be further from the truth.
It doesn’t matter how big or well-established your company is; it could be next on the hacking block.
With that said, you don’t have to live in fear that hackers will affect your business and get their hands on important data. You can use a few key strategies and powerful software to keep your website, email inbox, information, and employees safe at all times.
Remember, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Implement a complete security solution for your business sooner rather than later to avoid having to pick up the pieces after a devastating cyber attack.
About the Author: Alex Thornhill writes on business matters for EfficientIP that keep your company safe, healthy and thriving.