Many small business owners and startups think their businesses are too small for cybercriminals to bother to hack.
Small businesses are a target for several reasons. Bad actors are aware they might not have large IT teams or systems to respond or prevent an incident. According to the FBI, cybercrime cost businesses more than $2.7B in 2020. With over 791,000 complaints, the bad actors are going where they can monetize the effort.
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As organizations large and small are attacked, SMB attacks are growing in frequency, now closing the gap with larger organizations. According to Verizon, in the DBIR Report, smaller organization breaches have increased in frequency year after year. System intrusion is still one of the leading contributors to incidents. This is when bad actors gain access to data and systems.
Email and social engineering scams continue to wreak havoc on all businesses. PWC ran a phishing simulation on several financial institutions, and 70% of the emails were delivered with a 7% end-user click rate. It only takes one click to expose your organization to a bad actor. A vast number of payloads still come through email. The CISA has some great tips on how to avoid becoming a victim of phishing and social engineering.
The other leading threat is credential theft. Logins and passwords are exposed through an insecure connection or because they were used in a prior organization that was breached. Assume that all of your social media, personal email, and other logins and passwords have been disclosed in a breach somewhere. For your work accounts, do not reuse logins or passwords.
Free networks at coffee shops, hotels, restaurants, and airports are insecure. These convenient and easy-to-connect services are unmanaged and attack hackers that prey on unsuspecting users. Even if you need to enter your hotel room number or some type of passcode, it is likely an unprotected network where your personal and company data could be at risk. Look into providing employees with data plans on their cell phones or hotspots that allow for secure network access. This is where you tether your computer to a secure network connection to a cell phone or other LTE device.
If you must use public access internet while telecommuting or working remotely, a Virtual Private Network (VPN) is an excellent solution for creating an added layer of security. Think about a VPN as a wrapper around a piece of candy. The wrapper keeps the candy in and other contaminants out. VPN software provides encryption protection around your connection to the internet, making it much more difficult for hackers to intercept the communication.
Simply put, breaches are expensive. As a small business, your reputation and trust of your customers could be at risk. Small Business Trends estimates the average cost of a small business breach is $25,000. And IBM, in its annual Cost of a Data Breach Report, says in the past two years these costs have increased over 10%. However, that cost does not include loss of customer confidence and the associated loss of business when customers leave for the competition.
Cybersecurity provides layers of different technologies and processes that protect users. Training, VPN software, endpoint protection, and hotspots all greatly reduce risk and can be implemented without a large IT staff. As a small business, look for a security partner to assist you with solutions and scale that work within your budget.
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