Small businesses are sensitive to various cybersecurity threats in the same way as big companies. The idea that only large enterprises are the main hacker’s target is, unfortunately, a misconception. As technologies are spreading more, the attackers are growing to be even more skillful in hitting hundreds of companies at the same time. And while bigger enterprises are investing huge sums on eliminating the risks, small businesses, as a rule, have less cyber threat intelligence and resources to enable strong cybersecurity. In such a case, they are far more vulnerable than big companies. On another note, small businesses may be even more lucrative than their bigger competitors, dealing with a lot of data and finances.
The consequences of a cyberattack, however, for a small company are devastating. According to the recent report, companies with the number of employees 500 and less are on average suffering losses of $7.6 million after being attacked. In order for small companies to get back to the market and restore their reputation, they will need quite a lot of time and resources with some not even managing to get back to business.
All the above proves the necessity for small businesses to pay more attention to their data and computer network security and study available cybersecurity information to be aware of the existing threats and methods of eliminating them.
Phishing attacks are enormously damaging and particularly common among small businesses and continue to grow with time, having gained more than 60% in quantity last year. The idea under a phishing attack lies in encouraging people to click on or download files that are malicious. The sender, as a rule, acts as one of the trusted clients or contacts who can be given access to confidential information.
Nowadays, such attacks are more sophisticated and harder to combat. It is not so easy to differentiate the business contact from a hacker who is skillfully acting to achieve the goal. Attackers, with the help of social engineering, are targeting people rather than technical weaknesses and make use of their vulnerabilities and lack of attentiveness.
Despite the above, there are ways to defend small businesses from such attacks as phishing.
First of all, make sure to install a good email security gateway. Nowadays, there are a lot of them on the market (like Mimecast, Avanan, etc.) offering great tools for the ultimate security and keeping all the sensitive information safe.
In order to add another layer of protection, a post-delivery security solution is a way to go. Such platforms use AI to understand a company's communication routine, scan all the email correspondence, including outgoing and incoming letters, and reveal anomalies or suspicious emails. Same as with the gateways, there exist many platforms, like Ironscales, or INKY, which help to improve computer network security.
Apart from implementing various technological tools, it is crucial for small companies to train their employees and develop maximum awareness about existing security threats and ways to stay away from them. When employees learn to determine phishing attacks, act and report on time, companies will be able to secure their finances and protect important data.
Another dangerous threat to beware is malware. Such threats feature a malevolent code that is created to gain access to the company’s networks, destroy them, steal or make harm to existing information. It is relatively easy to get a virus when downloading from a website, opening suspicious emails, or connecting your device to others.
Small businesses are particularly vulnerable towards malware as such attacks are crippling devices causing costly repairs. Besides, malicious codes are capable of hacking the system and accessing valuable data putting the entire company at risk. Whenever people are using their personal devices at work, the company automatically becomes sensitive towards malware attacks.
Having said that, it is important to implement all the required tools in order to defend the existing data and business as a whole.
Platforms specializing at cloud web filtering and providing secure web gateway are great at protecting employees’ devices from malicious web content. On another hand, endpoint protection is important to establish a secure web connection and protect employees from harmful downloads and URLs and provide total control of all the user devices. Such platforms as Censornet Web Security, ContentProtect, and others have solid security engines to save devices from malware and cyber threats with the help of real-time inspection and URL analysis.
Another prevalent attack in the cyberworld is ransomware. They hit numerous small businesses annually and are considered extremely lucrative. Attackers encrypt the company’s data, making it unavailable for the owners and demand a certain amount of money to get it back. Businesses will then have a tough choice to make, they will either need to pay a lot of money or lose their data for good.
Being extremely vulnerable towards ransomware, small companies accounted for more than 80% of such attacks last year. Attackers target small businesses because the latter have less security and most often leave their data without proper back-up. Besides, some businesses, like the ones in healthcare, will not be able to function in case they lose access to all the medical records and patients’ information, being forced to give the ransom or shut down completely.
In order to prevent ransomware, businesses need to implement good endpoint protection on all their work devices. It will help to secure data and stop hackers from encrypting it. Besides, some endpoint protection software has the ability to detect attacks and successfully mitigate the risks.
On another note, companies always need to have a worthwhile cloud back-up solution if they lack one. Backing up data is not only helpful in case of a ransomware attack but also enables data recovery after a system crash.
Another threat, hugely underestimated, features all-time favorite passwords and pin codes. Many businesses, as a rule, use a wide range of online platforms, cloud-based applications, and software that ask for multiple accounts. In order to make it easier for the employees, companies apply the same passwords for different services, while they need to do exactly the opposite. Having weak or similar passwords across all the platforms can compromise existing sensitive data and make it far easier to access.
It is crucial to develop awareness among employees and encourage them to use strong and long passwords to protect all their personal and business data. Such platforms as Business Password Management offer great tools to manage accounts and apply all the required security measures. Apart from that, multi-factor authentication is something to consider when aiming to increase security levels. The technology features a multiple-step login, including a password, a code sent via mobile or a security question. Multi-factor authentication prevents hackers from cracking accounts, as guessing the password will not let them in.
The last threat that counts for over 30% of security breaches in small businesses is associated with insider threats. Sometimes there is no need to look too far away to find the actual cause of damage. According to the statistics, companies suffer from the actions of their employees, current and former associates, and contractors more often than they anticipate.
The above happens when employees lack awareness about security, act carelessly, or have access to various accounts with a lot of confidential data. It is crucial to provide access only to those who need it rather than the entire team. It will eliminate potential security risks and data leakage.
Another step towards establishing strong data protection is educating employees on the issue of cyberattacks, and particularly insider threats. Sometimes people’s ignorance is caused by the lack of knowledge. The more people understand cybersecurity, the faster they will develop a habit to protect their accounts and data.
With evolving technologies, cyberattacks are becoming more sophisticated, causing small businesses to review their safety measures and implement innovative cybersecurity solutions towards establishing strong and comprehensive protection. Phishing and malware attacks, insider threats, and ransomware are not new but keep causing serious damage to small businesses that lack security solutions.
With the help of web security platforms, increased levels of protection, and awareness training companies are now able to implement all the required services and ensure that all the employees are well aware of the possibilities, causes, and possible consequences of every single cyber attack. They say forewarned is forearmed, so don't miss a chance to keep everyone updated and make use of the latest technological innovations in the field of web security.