Let's talk about Cybersecurity Threats for Small Businesses. In an era where the average cost of a single data breach has reached $3.62 million according to Ponemon Institute, to say that cybersecurity for small business environments is essential is something of an understatement. By now, we all know the consequences - but despite how harrowing they may be, research has revealed that as many as 90% of SMBS do not have professional IT members on staff. This is true even in an era when 36% of cyber attacks are aimed directly at small businesses, and 60% of victims will close their doors within just six short months of an attack.
To that end, so much of your success in terms of creating a vigilant, proactive approach to cybersecurity involves knowing as much as possible about the types of threats you now face. There are seven key cybersecurity threats for small businesses in particular that you absolutely need to know more about.
Ransomware attacks have been on the rise for the last several years, in large part because they're so effective. When a machine is hit with a ransomware attack, all of the data on that device is literally encrypted and held for ransom by a remote hacker. If you haven't been keeping secure, off-site backups of that data, it's probably gone forever - there is no guarantee that you'll get it back, even if you do pay the hundreds or even thousands of dollars asked of you.
The key to protecting yourself against ransomware attacks involves training employees to not only not open emails from suspicious or unknown senders, but also educating them about the dangers of downloading and running computer files of dubious origin. Make sure to read my recent article I posted entitled “What is Ransomware?” to learn more about this growing threat.
Just how "popular" are phishing scams among the types of people who want to do your small business harm? In a word, "very." According to research conducted by Symantec, more than 400 businesses - many of them small businesses - are targeted by spear-phishing emails each and every day.
Again, the key to battling this threat is one of education - your employees need to know how to spot a suspicious email and need to know NOT to open anything they aren't 100% sure is legitimate.
Oftentimes, criminals will use multiple methods at the same time to attempt to contact an unsuspecting victim - including bot not limited to SMS text messages, social networks or even fraudulent advertisements. Your employees should be trained to never, ever give out any information over the phone to someone with an identity they cannot explicitly confirm.
Fraudulent apps are a particularly popular component of income tax-related scams, something that increases in frequency during the early months of the year. Cybercriminals publish fraudulent apps on app stores or other places online that, when downloaded, allow them to access personal information that can then be secretly extracted.
Once again, you need to make sure that your employees are only downloading apps to personal devices obtained via first-party sources - particularly if they're also going to be using those devices on your work Internet.
Another common type of threat that small businesses face has to do with password security, or a lack thereof. Not only do people use simplistic passwords, but they also tend to re-use them across multiple sites. If one of your employees gets hacked at home and it turns out they use the same password to log into your work network, suddenly your entire business is vulnerable.
Not only should you make it a part of your IT policy to always use complex passwords, you need to make sure that those passwords are A) not re-used in multiple places, and B) are changed on a regular basis. There are a number of password management tools available that will help employees save more complex passwords. One I would recommend looking at is LastPass.
The Dangers of BYOD
Another common issue facing small businesses has to do with BYOD or "bring your own device" environments. If someone is using a personal device at work, they're using it everywhere - including at home. If that device is logged into your business' network and then gets left behind in a bar or stolen on the street, suddenly your entire infrastructure is at risk.
You need to make sure that you're creating strong policies regarding what types of devices can or cannot be used at work and above all else, make sure that you can wipe those devices remotely should they be lost or stolen.
Managing Your Own Network
Finally, one of the biggest cybersecurity threats that many small businesses face has to do with good, old-fashioned human error. Oftentimes when you try to manage all of your network resources yourself, you simply lack the manpower or the knowledge (and often both) to do so effectively. Cybersecurity demands a proactive approach to staying protected, but this is largely impossible when you also have to worry about maintenance, upgrades, patches and so much more.
This is why managed IT services have become so popular in recent years. You get to leverage the expertise of a team of trained professionals to your advantage, letting them handle your IT infrastructure (including proactive security) so that you can get back to work on actually running a business - the thing you were trying to do in the first place.
At Cima Solutions, we understand how important cybersecurity is to small businesses in this modern era. It's a large part of the reason why we've designed our service offerings to be as robust and cost efficient as possible. We are a Managed Service Provider (MSP) helping small businesses in the Dallas-Fort Worth area overcome cybersecurity and IT concerns and focus on growing their business. Our MSP services allow us to help local businesses by making sure they can fully leverage the best of today's technology for a business advantage and to it securely, consistently and of course as cost efficient as possible.
If you've got any additional questions about the top threats that small businesses now face in terms of cybersecurity, or if you'd just like to learn more about our services and why they matter, take a moment and contact Cima today.