As a small business owner, you will probably have quite a few different tasks on your plate at any one time. If you spend most of your day putting out fires, responding to problems as they come, and trying to plan the long-term evolution of your business, then it is likely that you don’t have much time to think about things like a successful cybersecurity attack.
When you read of a cybersecurity attack on the news, it is usually on a big scale, as attackers target large businesses, making a huge impact. However, this viewpoint is not a particularly accurate representation of the majority of cybersecurity attacks. As cyber-attackers are increasingly targeting small businesses, it is vital you learn more about the threat in order to better protect your company.
Why Are Small Businesses the Target of Cyber-Attacks?
The first step to understanding more about how to protect your business against the threat of a successful cyber-attack is to learn more about why cybercriminals are increasingly targeting small businesses.
SMBs Don’t View Themselves as a Target
If you take a look at some of the biggest and most newsworthy data breaches in history, they are all relevant to big companies, like LinkedIn, Yahoo, and Alibaba. As it is only larger companies that make the headlines in terms of successful cybersecurity attacks, it is easy for small business owners to become complacent, believing they are not a viable target.
In reality, small SMBs are very much a target, as studies have found that over 55% have experienced a cyberattack by 2020. However, the common but unfounded belief that small businesses are not a viable target leads them to become more vulnerable, as many SMBs have reduced cybersecurity measures.
A Lack of Education
It is not only the complacency that leads small businesses to have reduced cybersecurity measures but a lack of education too. Small businesses often do not have the means or capacity to house their own expert IT team. This means that it can be easy for small businesses to operate without understanding the importance of or need for dedicated cybersecurity measures.
Small Businesses Have Valuable Information
Studies have found that financial motives are behind 83% of cybersecurity attacks on small businesses. This means that your business might not only be a target of a cybersecurity attack because it is easy to penetrate but also because you have information that is worth stealing.
The information that cyber-attackers are after can be varied. Many cyber-attackers target small businesses as a means of obtaining the personal information of their customers. They can then use this information to commit identity theft, using your customers’ details for financial gain or criminal activities. However, other attackers have a broader focus. For example, the successful 2013 Target cyber-attack came about because the attacker first targeted a small, local air conditioning company that worked for Target. The cyber-attacker was able to use the information they gained from the attack on a small company to successfully pursue the larger organization.
How Can Small Businesses Protect Themselves?
Small businesses are increasingly becoming the targets of sophisticated cyber-attacks. Unlike larger organizations, small businesses often do not have the means or resources to recover from a successful cyber-attack, making it even more vital that you learn how to protect your company.
Use Managed IT Services
The first step to protecting your small business against a successful cyber-attack is to use managed IT services. These services will provide you with round-the-clock monitoring and protection. This is vital for ensuring that all of your IT systems are up to date and protected.
Train All Members of Staff
Although cybersecurity systems will provide your business with a vital layer of protection, it is not enough to rely on these systems alone. A large proportion of successful cyber-attacks occur as a result of human error, which means that training staff is an absolute necessity.
You should train all staff members about possible cybersecurity threats and the best practices. Not only should you train staff in cybersecurity as part of your onboarding processes but as a regular practice too. You should make sure that all cybersecurity knowledge is up to date by using regular staff training sessions.
Create Comprehensive Guidelines
Even if staff are aware of potential cyber-security threats, it is easy for the best practices to get forgotten in the realities of a busy working life. To ensure that all staff are following the best cybersecurity practices, you will need to create a comprehensive set of guidelines.
You should create guidelines for everything from what information can be shared online to how often members of staff should be changing their passwords. Having a set of comprehensive and clear guidelines is essential for ensuring that all members of staff continue to uphold the best cybersecurity practices.
Cyber-attacks are on the rise, and small businesses have increasingly become the main targets of cybercriminals. It is vital that all small businesses think carefully and implement appropriate and effective measures to protect themselves against the potentially devastating effects of a successful cyber-attack.