Save Your Small Business from Cyber Attacks

Written by Chuck Rutenberg

February 8, 2023

While hacks and breaches against major businesses get most of the press, in reality, it’s small to medium-sized businesses that are more frequently victims of cyber attacks. That’s because they’re seen as easy targets, with hackers knowing many of them lack strong security for their data and websites.

If you’ve delayed investing in protective measures that reduce your company’s cyber risks due to worries about limited resources, read on to learn how forgoing advanced security technologies can cost you much, much more in the long run. And find out why hiring a managed service provider can be more cost-effective than you might have imagined.

Common Cyber Risks for Small Businesses

Research shows that one-third of SMBs report using free, consumer-focused cybersecurity software. And 43% of SMB owners say they have no cybersecurity protection plan in place at all, leaving their most sensitive customer, financial, and business data—and ultimately their companies—at significant risk.

Unfortunately, even small businesses aren’t immune to data breaches and cyber attacks that can bring them to the brink of disaster. Nearly 20% state they’ve suffered an attack within the last year that often caused significant downtime. According to the SBA, common cyber risks for SMBs include:

  • Malware or malicious software, which can include ransomware and viruses, is intentionally designed to cause damage to your company’s servers, computer network, and computer, including those used by remote employees.
  • Viruses are harmful programs that spread from computers to other connected devices. Cybercriminals use them to gain access to your systems and cause significant and sometimes irreparable issues.
  • Ransomware is malware that’s usually delivered through phishing emails. When the recipient clicks on an often official-looking link, the malware restricts user access to the computer until a ransom is provided. Ransomware typically works by encrypting data on a victim’s device and then demanding money in return for a promise to restore hijacked data.
  • Spyware is another form of malware that gathers information from a target and sends it to another user without the target’s consent. Some spyware is legal and legitimate, but malicious spyware is used to steal information and identities.
  • Phishing cyber attacks use email links and attachments or malicious websites to infect a single device in order to collect sensitive information.

If your business has remote workers, issues like improperly secured VPNs and cloud-based services can also put your company at risk.

The Cost of Cyber Attacks for SMBs

Once your company’s system is breached, you might find yourself spending $10,000 or more to resolve the attack. Add to that lost time and business, and the negative numbers can really start to add up.

Studies also show that, despite these realities and numbers, many SMBs are overconfident in their business’s IT safety. Twenty percent believe their companies have zero vulnerabilities, even though half don’t train employees in cybersecurity. And less than ten percent report having a dedicated IT staff member to handle cyber threats.

How to Protect Your SMB From Cyber Attacks

The first step in protecting your SMB against cyber attacks is understanding just how vulnerable it is to them. Only then can you make improvements to your current security initiatives and safeguard your systems and data.

Steps you can take to protect your business, your employees, and your customers from cyber risks include:

  • Train employees. Establish a security program that requires strong passwords and details penalties for violating cybersecurity policies.
  • Update software. Updating your network’s firewall and installing all the latest security software are some of the best defenses against hackers skilled at exploiting network vulnerabilities.
  • Develop a mobile device action plan. Remote and non-remote employees alike now regularly use their own devices to access your business’s network and online tools. Consider investing in solutions like cloud computing and increasing network bandwidth and data storage capabilities.
  • Control access. Laptops and other digital devices are particularly easy targets for attack, theft, and loss. Create separate user accounts for each employee and only give administrative privileges to trusted IT staff and other key personnel.

To avoid losing valuable data completely, make backup copies of important customer and financial information. Schedule automatic daily or weekly backups to ensure your data’s always available to keep operations running smoothly.

Is Your Small Business Prepared?

A cyber attack on a small business can destroy the owner’s and their employees’ livelihoods. Preparing your SMB ensures your business and the people you employ are protected. However, as cyber threats continue to evolve and emerge, many small businesses are finding they lack the internal resources to ward them off. One solution is to work with a managed IT services provider who can provide the round-the-clock monitoring needed to keep your data safe while you focus on increasing business efficiencies and outcomes.

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