Several companies have suffered significant data breaches since this year, including Facebook, LinkedIn, T-Mobile, Kroger, and Volkswagen. Yet, these and other large-scale cyber incidents can cloud our perception of reality when they dominate headlines and consume our attention.
Even though it might seem that large enterprises are the most frequently targeted by cybercrime, cybercrime statistics provide a different perspective. The 2020 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report described the following:
Cyber attacks target 43 percent of all small businesses, especially those in the legal, insurance, retail, financial, and healthcare sectors.
According to IBM Security’s recent study, it is hard to overstate the sombering fact that 40% of small businesses have been victimized by cybercrime since the onset of the pandemic. What’s the reason? Do you know of any specific reasons why small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are attractive targets? Certainly.
The following are three reasons hackers attack small businesses:
1. Cybersecurity isn’t taken seriously by small businesses.
Cybercrime is often not fully understood by small business owners. They perceive cybercriminals as lone wolves who select their targets to score the biggest hit and earn the most considerable reputation. However, phishers and ransomware spammers still exist today, but they have fewer similarities with white-collar insurance criminals than with petty street thieves.
The majority of cybercriminals today do not have advanced hacking skills or the ability to write exploits for newly discovered vulnerabilities. On the dark web, these tools are sold just like regular software on the internet. It allows them to target soft targets because these tools generally cannot compromise enterprises with hardened defences.
Small and medium-sized businesses could also harden their defences, but most don’t see the need. Cybercriminals were not considered a risk to 66 per cent of decision-makers in Keeper Security’s 2019 SMB Cyberthreat Study. According to the CNBC Momentive Q3 Small Business Survey, 56 per cent of small business owners are not concerned about their businesses being hacked in the next year.
As long as a company doesn’t have a concern, there’s no reason to invest time and resources into improving cybersecurity. It’s too late for many small business owners to act upon their false assumptions when they realize that they’re misguiding their business.
2. A small business serves as a tunnel to a larger target.
We’ve all seen the movie scene: bank robbers steal the keys to a small store near the bank, and they go there every night to dig a tunnel through which they can steal money from the vault undetected. Cybercrime occurs every day in the digital world, as criminals infiltrate small businesses and use them as gateways to larger companies.
Target’s 2013 data breach, which exposed 40 million customer debit and credit card accounts of shoppers who visited its stores during the 2013 holiday season, is one of the best-known examples of this practice. Cybercriminals took advantage of the vulnerability by stealing credentials from HVAC firm Fazio Mechanical Services based in Sharpsburg, Penn. Target’s point-of-sale devices allowed the attackers to push their malware without being detected, and the rest is history.
Although Target is as much to blame for allowing a third party to access its infrastructure as Fazio Mechanical Services for failing to protect credentials, it doesn’t change that small business are often targeted since cybercriminals will tunnel through them to reach their actual targets.
3. Manipulating and coercing small businesses is a simple task.
Ransomware infects an enterprise and demands a large sum of money to regain access to encrypted files. There are two possible outcomes: paying the ransom in hopes of recovering from the attack as soon as possible or declining payment and relying on backups to recover.
The same is often not true for small businesses. First of all, they don’t always back up all essential data and practice its restoration in cases like this. Consequently, they can’t say no to attackers because the cost of data loss would be greater than the ransom payment. Small businesses may also be challenging to pay the ransom since they don’t have much money, and their creditors may not lend them more.
Aside from being easily manipulated into paying a ransom, small businesses are also easily tricked into disclosing sensitive information that can enable ransomware and other attacks if they don’t prioritize cybersecurity awareness training, which directly addresses human error as a leading cause of data breaches.
How Can Small Businesses Protect Themselves?
Small businesses can take many steps to protect themselves against cyberattacks, and they don’t have to give up vast amounts of their budgets to do so. Here are some guidelines to help them mitigate risk:
- During login attempts, requiring all users to provide two or more verification factors is the most effective way to prevent attackers from accessing protected resources.
- Conduct cybersecurity awareness training: Employees can serve as the first line of defence against imminent cyber threats when trained to recognize and defend themselves against common cybersecurity threats.
- Files are to be backed up to multiple locations regularly: Even a relatively small loss of data can cause a company to lose a lot of money, which is why having a data backup and recovery strategy is crucial.
- Updating all software is a good idea: Unpatched software (or, better yet, the vulnerabilities it contains) often leads to data breaches. Patching is often time-consuming, but it is one of the most rewarding activities, and its positive effects on cybersecurity are significant.
- Nowadays, employees tend to work from various locations, making traditional perimeter defences, such as firewalls, insufficient. In today’s world of endpoint protection, there is no shortage of options to choose from and implement.
- Protection against email phishing: Phishers love email because it allows them to target a wide range of potential victims with little effort. Phishing emails get prevented before they reach inboxes with email protection solutions.
- To protect data both at rest (using encryption features like BitLocker) and in transit (by using technologies like SSL), it’s imperative to encrypt it both at rest and in transit.
- There is no substitute for solid cybersecurity, but you can get peace of mind from a cybersecurity insurance policy by knowing that a cybersecurity incident won’t lead to the organization’s demise.
- As enterprises adopt hybrid work models, they face cybersecurity challenges, including users connecting to corporate networks from public locations and employees using personal devices for work purposes. Addressing these challenges promptly can mean the difference between a data breach and business as usual.
- A practical vulnerability test identifies and classifies security vulnerabilities to be handled most effectively, starting with the most severe ones and progressing to less likely ones.
- You would be better off working with a cybersecurity company: Small businesses lack the skills and experience that would allow them to utilize the latest cybersecurity tools. Any SMB can implement the best practices above without losing sight of its mission by partnering with a reputable cybersecurity firm, such as NSWIT Support.
Small Business Protection Against Hackers – Summary
Cybercriminals do not overlook small and medium-sized companies when choosing their targets, despite what many decision-makers believe. A significant number of them view SMBs as low-hanging fruit that’s ripe for the picking, and they don’t waste any time grabbing it, even if it’s only as part of a more significant attack on a major enterprise.
Small and medium-sized businesses must follow cybersecurity best practices, which continually evolve to reflect the threats they face. We’d love to talk about your plans; contact us for immediate cyber security support for your small business.