busy coffee shop as a small business

How “At Risk” Small Businesses REALLY Are to Cyber Attacks

Running a small business comes with a very specific set of challenges, like having limited resources, and often cyber security falls to the bottom of the list. But, the cost of a data breach, no matter the size of your organisation can be huge and the bad PR or image alone could be crippling as small businesses have to rely on reputation! 

Why Would Anyone Target Small Businesses?

Many small business owners don’t understand why their company would be an appealing target for hackers. They are small, don’t have vast funds or sensitive secrets that anyone would care about. They believe they are not big enough to be a target, so they don’t invest as heavily in cyber security as larger businesses do.

Some hackers do not target small businesses specifically but try to infect as many devices as possible, and without protective measures, backups in place, or the education, small businesses can very quickly become victims too.

The most common type of tactic that casts a wide net are ransomware attacks and more recently, cyber-attacks are becoming more targeted and specific.

The top 3 reasons why small businesses are targeted specifically by hackers are:

  1. The lack of investment into security makes it too easy for those looking to make quick money by selling details. 
  2. Small businesses often work with larger enterprises and if they’re not careful can serve as a point of entry for a large data breach.
  3. A small business is more likely to meet the hacker’s demands, such as a ransom, to get their data back because without it, their business is at a standstill. 

Cyber-attacks against Small Businesses are on the Rise

According to Keeper Securities’ State of Cybersecurity in Small & Medium-Sized Businesses (SMB) report from 2017, attacks against small and medium business owners are on the rise. A staggering 61% of small businesses that were interviewed reported they were affected by a cyber-attack. The most common type of attack included phishing or social engineering, with web-based attacks and general malware following closely behind.

What Small Businesses Should do to be Safe from Cyber Crime

Change of stance is the most crucial thing.

If small business owners continue to believe they are not a good target to hackers and believe they don’t matter, they will continue to be vulnerable to cyber attacks. Small businesses should focus on the following areas:

  • New Technology and Software – Investing in the newest software solutions can give small businesses the edge that they need to catch breach attempts early. Machine learning can detect anomalies in network traffic or credit card fraud attempts so that small businesses don’t have to pay as much attention. 
  • Employee Education – Teaching employees about cyber security lowers the risk considerably. Get them on board about it and teach them about password policies, what makes a strong password, why password sharing is risky, and signs that indicate a possible breach. Check out the TowerWatch Academy for regular courses that you might need for educating staff and using protection software. 
  • Regular Updates and Patching – Ensure all your systems are up to date and patched regularly. New patches are applied to parts of code that could have been used as points of entry before the patch which is why you should always keep up to date. 
  • Use Encryption – Encryption is a precaution in case a data breach happens. If hackers get to your data, having it encrypted will render it useless to them. 
  • Physical Security – Have surveillance in place in areas where you keep your sensitive data to avoid malicious actions from the real world.
  • Two Factor Authentication – In case a cyber attack is successful in getting credentials to log in to your system(s), a two-factor authentication will stop them from getting further than trying to log in and will immediately alert you so you can lock it down and change your passwords. 

If you need any help or support protecting yourself as a small business from cyber security attacks, join our free Facebook community for IT support for your small business.