SMEs happen to be common targets for cyber-crime as small business owners to sometimes overlook the risks of the various forms of hacking and cyber attacks. With time, the hackers are becoming more proficient and intelligent in their ability to gain access to the small business networks and sensitive information like personal details of the employees and their customer emails.
The outcome of a data breach can be quite devastating as hackers can really cripple your business. Any business big or small could be a target. Whether you are in finance, retail, e-commerce or any other field data is the heart of the business. Data includes customer details, client and sale purchase records as well as financial and employee details are all extremely valuable to the business and if they get into the wrong hands, it can lead to rather damaging consequences. We live in a digital world today that is connected to a myriad of IoT devices, mobile phones that makes both the users and business prone to hacking while they are connected to a network.
How big is the problem?
It might seem as only large corporations and big names are prone to get hacked or suffer from cyber attacks, according to a 2015 study, 43% of such attacks were made against the small businesses. Last year, 2 out of 5 cyber-attacks were on SMEs. As they were not high-profile, that is why they didn’t make to the news. What’s more, as small businesses lack proper resources and finance to hire IT experts, it also becomes intimidating for them to secure their business. Small businesses usually have weaker online security. Major tech giants like Apple who have countless protective resources against hackers are vulnerable as well. The recent Cambridge Analytica scandal of Facebook is another example that no matter how secure you might think your information is, it could be leaked. More often than not, the hackers are not even aware of the kind of information being stored by the business until and unless they have broken into your network and gotten hands on your data.
So, even if there is no sensitive data store, it is quite likely that your small business will be at risk for a data breach. Cyber-attacks are a serious threat to SMEs and require the owners to both understand and implement the right cybersecurity measures.
Common Cybersecurity Threats Faced by Small Businesses:
Here are some of the most common forms of cyber threats:
The most common problem faced by small businesses is phishing. Phishing scams happen to be as old as the internet and if the employees are educated beforehand regarding these threats on the internet, one can save his business of big loss in the future. In this method, cyber criminals try to get sensitive information from the employees. This way, they are able to send malware that affects both the network functions and computers until a sum of money is paid to the hacker/attacker. There are a number of forms of phishing. For instance, a large number of individuals or businesses are attacked by sending emails that seem like they are from some client or a client.
Every day, companies both large and small are affected by ransomware attacks. Companies can avoid ransomware attacks if all of the company systems are kept up-to-date and protected against malware and viruses by efficient anti-virus software. Managers need to make sure that the staff regularly creates backups for all the files and is cautious regarding the data they open on their computers or even smartphones as a large number of organizations now carry out all the business communications on the company provided phones.
Cloud Storage Service:
The new cloud computing services have revolutionized the way small businesses are operated. Cloud storage has become a preferred choice for not only small but medium-sized businesses as well. Cloud storage offers business owners with the appropriate defense measures along with timely security updates. Speaking about cloud storage, one also needs to know that they are using not only reputable but reliable service providers too.
Another common problem is the web-based attacks business owners need protection from. Business websites are often attacked as they lack multiple layers of security. Hackers are able to carry out malicious actions using the company website. This could damage the branding of the company that could result in immediate penalization by search engines like Google and Bing. So, it is very important that you not only change your passwords but also update the WordPress plugins. The chances of you becoming a victim of ransomware, phishing or data breach can be greatly reduced if adopt a regimen of regularly updating your systems along with smart anti-virus software solutions that can effectively handle the various cybersecurity needs of your company.
Stolen or Compromised Communication Devices:
Cell phones, tablets, laptops, computers, and Macs are popularly used by companies for work-related purposes and carrying out business communication with clients. They contain important company information that could prove to be a goldmine for the cybercriminals. Therefore, managers need to make sure and highlight this to the employees that only the secured company devices should be used to store and access the company information. The information that is stored on the stolen or compromised devices could be used against the interests of the company. It is also essential to realize the threats a company could have by having a mole at the workplace. Sensitive data or confidential company information could be leaked to rivals or published by disloyal or unhappy employees. So, apart from being cautious one also has to keep a watchful eye on their employees and monitor their activities. Employee monitoring apps like TrackMyFone, Xnspy, and Activtrak are some of popular monitoring apps to monitor your employees’ device activities and both their online and offline activities. These apps help in monitoring messages, calls, emails, and location too so in case an employer is suspicious of his employee, using these kind of apps could get the employer getting some cold hard proof.
What Small Business Owners Need to Know?
Owners of the small business need to understand the threats their business might be vulnerable to. Moreover, they need to accept the fact and educate their staff that cybersecurity is not only the responsibility of a tech expert but every employee. The majority of the attacks that were experienced by the small businesses can actually be stopped if some simple precautionary measures are implemented in the organization right from the start.
Businesses should know everything there is to know about cybersecurity so that keep their business safe from data breaches and other forms of cyber-attacks. The employees and staff should be trained to adopt safe tech policies. Furthermore, such an organizational environment needs to be promoted where open communication can take place along with training the employees in case they come across the various forms of cyberattacks like ransomware, phishing, etc.
About the Author:
Andrew Carroll is an expert in cybersecurity. He helps businesses both small and medium-sized, in implementing and adopting the best security methods for their organization and network. He gives great advice regarding and assists people in boosting the security measures for their website and business.