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Why Small Businesses are at Risk of Cyberattacks
Launching a small business is hard work. It takes months of planning, research, marketing and strategizing. It demands commitment, sweat, possibly even tears.
But once you have that enterprise up and running, the realization that you’ve carved your own niche in a highly-competitive marketplace makes it all worth it.
Imagine you’ve gone through this process. Imagine you’ve invested all your energy, resources and money into building a small business. Imagine you’re feeling confident in your brand and excited for what the future holds.
Now, imagine how devastated you’d feel if your company was attacked by a cybercriminal.
A large-scale cyberattack can leave your small business facing real financial difficulties, expose your valuable data and prompt your clients to wonder how safe their information is in your hands.
Needless to say, this chain reaction can have a crushing impact on your small business. It could cause extensive disruptions to your workflow, triggering delays and adding friction to your client relationships.
So, why do hackers target small businesses? And what can you do to help safeguard your growing enterprise from their attacks?
A Complacent Approach to Cybersecurity
One reason hackers tend to target small businesses is complacency.
Not every emerging company falls into this camp, of course — some do take a strict approach to securing their network. However, it’s not uncommon to find small-business owners believing themselves to be ‘too small’ for hackers to target.
This mindset can be dangerous. It’s the very thing hackers will bank on to gain access to your system.
A Lack of Investment
Another issue is the lack of funds to finance high-quality cybersecurity solutions — and that’s understandable. After all, you have so much to cover already. Salaries. Rent. Equipment. The list goes on and on.
But cybersecurity must be a priority for your small business. Never underestimate hackers’ ruthlessness: a company without the money to pay for effective safeguards or a real grasp of how vulnerable they are is an ideal target. Criminals see an ill-informed, ill-prepared enterprise as low-hanging fruit.
Don’t make their ‘work’ easier. Don’t give them any obvious vulnerabilities to exploit.
Small Businesses are More Likely to Pay Ransoms
Ransomware has been a growing threat to companies of all sizes in the past year or so. Hackers essentially lock businesses out of their own systems (or, at least, parts of it) and demand money in exchange for their freedom.
Businesses don’t have to pay up to get full access again, as experts can help. However, small companies who may be a little less educated on the topic will believe handing the money over is the only way out of the situation.
They could also feel as if being unable to continue on track will put them out of business.
Untrained Staff Fall Prey to Phishing Scams
Hackers see small businesses as ripe targets as their staff may not be aware of common malware attacks and phishing scams. They may not recognize the warning signs of, say, infected email attachments or dangerous links.
This can open the door to data breaches, ransomware and more. Any employees responsible would no doubt feel incredibly guilty as their colleagues and clients face the consequences of their mistake.
But it’s not just their fault: it’s down to small businesses to make sure proper education and training is in place to maximize workers’ knowledge, boost vigilance and minimize threat levels.
How can Small Businesses Protect Themselves Against Cyberattacks?
As a small-business owner, there are multiple steps you can take to protect your company, your employees and your clients from possible cybersecurity risks.
Implement a strict password strategy
We all have numerous passwords for online accounts. Maybe you have one or two for your banking. Perhaps a few more for streaming services (Netflix, Hulu etc.). You’ll probably have others for social networks too (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp to name just a few).
It’s hard to keep track of these. That’s why so many of us use the same single password for every account — and that’s dangerous. Because if a hacker cracks it, they’ll have access to everything else too.
You can’t afford to make the same mistake with your business’s security. Make sure your team members understand just how important unique passwords are for the tools they use on a daily basis. They should create passwords including a mix of lowercase and uppercase characters, numbers and symbols.
This takes more time and can feel like a hassle, but it’s well worth it for added peace of mind. Make sure to change passwords once or twice a month, if not more often.
Invest in expert training
Consider bringing a cybersecurity expert into your business to train your employees on effective steps they can take to minimize their risk of exposing data to criminals.
This can make a big difference and empower workers with the confidence to remain vigilant at all times. If every member of the team knows how to identify a potential threat and take action to avoid it, your small business will be much safer against cyberattacks.
Be careful with authorizations
Sadly, cyberattacks may not originate from outside your business — they could be the work of an employee.
This may be an individual with a grudge or simply someone who’s incompetent. Whatever the reason, internal threats can be prevented by reviewing your authorization strategy.
Take care to only grant your most trustworthy, reliable employees access to sensitive data. Monitor your team’s activities and update your cybersecurity measures on a regular basis.
Every small business must take cyberattacks seriously. Never assume you’re not at risk just because there are so many bigger targets to aim for — this complacency and lack of preparation could be a hacker’s way in.
Trust our experts to provide all the help you need with your small business’s cybersecurity.
Contact us todayto discuss your options with a member of our team and subscribe to our newsletter for the latest essential updates.
Steve E. Driz, I.S.P., ITCP