News headlines of major cybersecurity attacks targeting large corporations and public entities have become a mainstay of today’s business environment. However, reports from industry experts indicate that this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are the largest target of consistent cyberattacks in the form of malware, intrusion and phishing attacks. Such attacks rarely make the headlines but are becoming more common. Reports show that billions are lost each year as a result of sustained attacks on SMBs.
Why SMBs Are Easy Targets
No Security Plans
Do you have an up-to-date security plan for your small business? How will you react in case you experience an attack? Do you have a clear plan to survive a security breach or downtime caused by intrusions on your IT infrastructure? Research shows that 60% of small business will go under if they experience a severe cyberattack.
Sadly, cybercriminals are aware that most small businesses have no security plans and the few that do rarely update it to accommodate the rapidly changing cybersecurity environment.
Thinly Staffed or Nonexistent IT Departments
Many small businesses operate on a tight budget when it comes to staffing. It is not uncommon to find businesses with one or two IT personnel or none at all. This means that vulnerable IT components, like servers and routers, aren’t up-to-date with security. Attacks will not be detected on time and reactions will be slow, especially for those with no IT staff on-site.
Third-Party Tools and Software
Attackers are aware that small businesses often turn to well-known, off-the-shelve business tools and software. Compared to in-house tailored solutions, off-the-shelf solutions are easier to breach by nature. Sometimes, vendors also fail to push security updates to their clients in time, giving attackers a larger window of opportunity.
SMBs are perceived as low hanging fruit by cyber-criminals. Most of them get by with the bare minimum when it comes to IT infrastructure. They may have a basic network in place, antivirus software and password protected workstations. Even less sophisticated attackers using basic tools can target such installations.
As cheaper and more flexible business tools become available in the cloud, more small businesses are moving their operations online without proper security considerations and safeguards. SMBs are innocently sharing sensitive data on loosely secured (mostly unencrypted) cloud servers. The cloud is the new playing ground for cybercriminals as they can now cast their nets far and wide and acquire more victims.
The Human Factor
Cybersecurity awareness and training is critical in protecting a business from attacks. Cyber-attackers know how to manipulate people through social engineering techniques. Staff in small businesses tend to have a lax approach on how they use IT resources at work. This leaves the business open to phishing attacks, viruses and identity theft.
Cyberthreats targeting small businesses are here to stay. It is important that business owners take steps to protect themselves from cybercriminals by investing in cybersecurity and consistently re-evaluating their security plans.