It’s not uncommon for small and mid-sized organizations to minimize their cybersecurity investments. Operating on tight budgets, decision-makers sometimes believe hackers are more likely to target larger corporations with a treasure trove of digital assets. But truth be told, cybercriminals would rather take advantage of vulnerable small and mid-sized operations with seemingly weak defenses. Consider the following statistics regarding small and mid-sized companies.
• Small and mid-sized organizations sustain 43 percent of all data breaches.
• More than 60 percent of these companies report being targeted at least once.
• Significant cyberattacks resulted in 40 percent shutting down for a full workday.
• There were more than 800,000 cyberattacks in 2021 alone.
Upwards of 83 percent of small and mid-sized companies are not financially prepared to weather a cyberattack, and 91 percent fail to purchase liability coverage. Compounding the multi-level vulnerabilities, 43 percent do not have a cybersecurity plan.
In terms of cybersecurity defenses, small and mid-sized businesses are the low-hanging fruit a hacker halfway around the world wants to take advantage of. At Sedulous, we understand that If entrepreneurs and other decision-makers are going to avert online disasters, they need to understand cybersecurity and the schemes bad actors deploy.
What is Cybersecurity?
It’s essential for business owners to understand that cybersecurity runs much deeper than purchasing the latest antivirus product. It involves protecting digital assets housed in hardware and the Cloud across various devices. The very laptops, smartphones, and work-from-anywhere connectivity that level the competitive playing field also create pathways for hackers to infiltrate networks and steal valuable information.
Determined cybersecurity tasks company leaders with developing multi-pronged defenses. Given the relatively modest budgets of small operations, the goal may not necessarily be to make massive capital investments. By working with Sedulous, a cost-effective cybersecurity plan can be developed. Once implemented, a cybersecurity plan of action can eliminate the perception you are the low-hanging fruit. That means garden variety hackers will spend their time and energy looking elsewhere for an easy mark.
Methods Hackers Use To Breach Business Systems
Although the small business community remains at risk, it’s important to understand how hackers choose their targets. We all see the splashy headlines about multi-million hacks that large corporations and federal government agencies suffer. The nefarious individuals who pull off those heists are usually highly skilled, intelligent, and well-funded persistent threats. Many are part of an underground cybercrime syndicate, and they go after big paydays. These are not necessarily the individuals targeting small and mid-sized operations.
Rather, low-level hackers and some with average skills usually cast a wide net and wait for someone to make a misstep. These are commonly deployed methods used by hackers who are inclined to target startups and mom-and-pop operations.
• Phishing: This method involves sending thousands of emails and other electronic messages. Some are laced with malware or entice the recipient to take some action. Once a malicious link is clicked on or a file is downloaded, the hacker infiltrates a network and pilfers off digital assets. This remains the preferred method of hackers when targeting small businesses.
• Spear Phishing: A more sophisticated cybercriminal may do some homework about you or your employees to create a more convincing message. It’s stunning how much personal information can be lifted from social media and professional platforms. Using this information, a skilled hacker tries to convince someone a file or link is legitimate. Again, they assume control over your network once someone falls for the deception.
• Zero-Day Exploit: Companies have grown increasingly reliant on software and automation to compete in the global markets. The applications small and mid-sized organizations use sometimes experience hiccups. When that happens, software companies issue what are known as “patches” to cure vulnerabilities. Hackers are keenly aware that busy entrepreneurs may not promptly install these patches. While your software remains unprotected, they exploit it and breach your network.
• Password Penetrations: It’s common knowledge that hackers exploit weak and predictable passwords. But it’s almost ironic that a significant number of employees fail to create complex passwords or change them periodically. The humor of using “password123” is lost when a business suffers tens of thousands of dollars in losses and downtime. A relatively unsophisticated online thief can apply an email-based username and run an automated attack to guess common passwords. Password penetrations rank among the easiest methods to breach a system.
Someone with bad intent sitting in a café halfway around the world is largely immune from prosecution. That’s why they target American companies with malware such as Trojans, ransomware, spyware, and newly-minted viruses. As long as a business system demonstrates less-than-determined cybersecurity defenses, the attacks will continue.
How Can Businesses Improve Cybersecurity Defenses?
Hardening a small and mid-sized outfit’s cybersecurity defenses does not have to strain your budget. Experienced cybersecurity professionals work closely with community members to create cost-effective options that provide protection. These are ways a cybersecurity firm helps insulate digital assets from threats.
Cybersecurity Awareness Training
Educating employees about phishing schemes, enticements, and complex passwords goes a long way. Cybersecurity experts can teach staff members how to identify the telltale signs of a phishing or spear-phishing message. A third-party firm can also send out alerts when new threats emerge.
One of the ways to protect login profiles involves rendering a hacker’s automation useless. Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) requires an authorized person to input their username and password. Once that has been completed, a code is sent to a separate device — usually, a cellphone — and that follow-up code must be manually typed in to open the profile. Hackers can guess your staff member’s password, but they cannot take physical control over the secondary device.
These and a wide range of other strategies are available to small and mid-sized companies. They are considered cost-effective and significantly harden cybersecurity defenses. Just because you may not have the deep pockets of large corporations doesn’t mean you cannot adequately defend your business. By partnering with Sedulous and employing these and other solutions, hackers will run into a brick wall and look for the low-hanging fruit elsewhere. Our team ofcybersecurity engineers can help maintain your reputation while keeping customers’ data secure. Contact our team today toschedule a consultationto discuss the best cybersecurity solution for your business.