Small Businesses: Easy Targets for Hackers?
Many small business owners think, “I’m too small. Why would hackers care about me?” But that’s where they’re wrong. Let’s break down why small businesses are actually on hackers’ radar.
Size Doesn’t Matter to Hackers
You might think your business data isn’t a big deal, but to hackers, all data is useful. They don’t always go after big companies. Sometimes, they just want easy targets.
Big Companies vs. Small Businesses
Big companies have strong security because they have the money for it. So, breaking into their systems is hard and time-consuming. Small businesses often don’t spend as much on security, making them an easy target for hackers.
Small Fish Can Lead to Bigger Fish
If a small business works with bigger ones, hackers might break into the small one to get to the big one. It’s like using a side door instead of the main entrance.
Stealing data is one reason hackers attack. Here, we delve into the top five cyber threats that all businesses, regardless of size, should be on the lookout for.
Ransomware, a type of malicious software, is notorious for encrypting user data and demanding a ransom to release the decryption key. The primary mode of delivery for most ransomware is through malicious emails.
Insight: among small businesses targeted with ransomware, 51% chose to pay the ransom (Source: CNBC).
To safeguard against ransomware:
Staff awareness: ensure that staff are cautious of unsolicited emails, especially those demanding urgent action.
Malware protection: use reliable anti-virus and malware protection tools.
Software updates: regularly update all applications to protect against vulnerabilities.
Data backups: maintain a series of robust data backups.
Phishing involves attempting to retrieve sensitive information by masquerading as a trustworthy entity. Its more targeted counterpart, spear phishing, targets specific individuals. “Whaling” is an advanced form of spear phishing where attackers impersonate high-level executives to coerce other employees into performing actions like transferring funds.
Insight: malware is the most common threat to small businesses, making up 18% of attacks. Phishing closely follows at 17% (Source: Tech Republic).
To combat phishing:
Stay vigilant: companies rarely ask for sensitive information via email. Always question the legitimacy of such requests.
Anti-malware software: employ tools that can detect and block phishing attempts.
Spam filters: activate these, but also review them to ensure genuine emails aren’t mistakenly flagged.
In today’s mobile age, cybersecurity extends beyond the confines of the office. The widespread use of smartphones, tablets, and portable storage devices has increased the risk of data leaks.
To prevent such leaks:
Secure mobile devices: use passcodes and enable options like GPS tracking and remote wipe capabilities.
Encryption: especially for portable storage devices, encryption is vital.
Stay vigilant: a significant portion of theft is opportunistic. Always keep an eye on your devices and important documents.
External hacking attempts to penetrate IT systems can be very lucrative for criminals. While financial data is a common target, intellectual property can also be a goldmine for hackers.
Insight: 43% of all data breaches target small businesses (Source: CNBC), 61% of SMBs experienced a cyberattack in the last year (Source: Verizon) and 60% of small businesses go out of business within 6 months of a cyberattack (Source: Business Australia).
To defend against hacking:
Network protection: use firewalls and ensure secure data access mechanisms.
User awareness and training: often, the weakest link is the human element. Regular training can mitigate this risk.
Sometimes, the threat comes from within. Employees, whether intentionally or by accident, can leak valuable data.
Insight: 52% of SMBs lack dedicated cybersecurity IT employees, meaning internal staff with little to no cybersecurity training could unintentionally become insider threats (Source: Untangle).
To minimize insider threats:
Educate: regular training can reduce inadvertent data leaks.
Restrict data access: apply the ‘least privilege access’ principle across all IT systems.
Monitor: control and monitor the use of portable storage devices.
What Can Small Businesses Do?
Even if you’re small, you can still protect your business. Spend some money on good security, teach your team about online safety, and always back up your data. Remember, every business is valuable to hackers. Make sure you’re not an easy target!