The mainstream media coverage of multi-million cyberattacks creates a false perception that hackers primarily target larger corporations with deep pockets. Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth.
Cybersecurity for small businesses remains light-years behind large corporations, and online criminals are well aware of that fact. If you still think heightened cybersecurity for small businesses isn’t worth the investment, consider the following statistics.
• Approximately 47 percent of companies with 50 or fewer employees budget specifically for cybersecurity.
• Only 18 percent of organizations with 250 or more staff members possess a dedicated cybersecurity budget.
• More than 40 percent of cyberattacks target small businesses.
• Following a data breach, 60 percent of small businesses shut their doors within six months.
Rather than think about splashy headlines about Russian hackers pilfering off millions, look at cybersecurity for small businesses from another lens. For example, the mainstream media and digital platforms routinely post horrific crashes involving massive tractor-trailers. But you don’t know that there are about 500,000 total truck accidents annually, compared to more than 11 million passenger vehicle crashes. Small businesses, metaphorically, are the millions of unreported car wrecks.
How Do Hackers Target Small Businesses?
A Small Business Administration survey indicates that 88 percent of business owners are concerned their operation is open to a cyberattack. And because few business leaders have an IT background or expertise in cybersecurity, it isn’t easy to know where or why to invest in online defense. However, by looking at how hackers target similar-sized organizations, you may be able to make informed decisions.
Social Engineering: Digital thieves know that over 95 percent of all data breaches result from human error. That’s essentially why hackers send out thousands of electronic scam messages designed to trick an employee into clicking on a malicious link, downloading an aggressive file, or giving away login credentials.
Ransomware: One of the key tools hackers deploy is malware that locks owners and employees out of their network. Cybercriminals usually ask for a large sum in cryptocurrency before sending decryption, allowing a company to resume operations. The average ransomware demand spiked from about $136,000 to nearly $600,000 in 2021.
Weak Login Credentials: “Password123” and other weak login credentials are still real. Every day, people have profiles across dozens of platforms, including banks, credit card companies, and e-commerce platforms. Not being able to remember them all, some use easy-to-recall passwords. Hackers guess by reviewing their online presence or using a bot to run possibilities. Once inside a small business network, valuable and sensitive information can be stolen and sold on the dark web.
Whenever a hacker believes a small or mid-sized operation has poor cybersecurity or untrained employees, they treat that organization like low-hanging fruit. The result is a devastating data breach.
What is the Small Business Fallout of a Cyberattack?
As more companies store valuable information digitally, improved cybersecurity for small businesses becomes increasingly essential. And while 60 percent of organizations shuttering is shocking, these are other ways companies are typically affected. These include the following.
Profit-Driving Endeavors Disrupted
The indirect cost of a cyberattack can ruin a business. While the network remains inaccessible, your company cannot adequately provide client goods and services. The tip of the spear is the lost revenue associated with going offline for an extended period. In addition, impatient customers may go elsewhere and continue to patronize a competitor after you regain operational control.
Small Businesses Suffer High Recovery Costs
Cyberattacks are uncommon to leave equipment and data storage devices damaged. However, a small business may need to repair or replace an entire system following a hack. Cloud-based operations that bypass in-house networks may sustain fewer equipment losses. But cybercriminals usually attempt to expand their reach and steal from your business-to-business partners. If a business stores critical information about others in its orbit and hackers leverage those files, your small business could face a civil lawsuit.
Forced to Rethink Your Business Model
Should a small business survive the brunt of a cyberattack, the leadership team members will likely need to overhaul the entire operation. Online cybersecurity practices such as data collection, storage, transmission, and who has access need to be closely examined. In all likelihood, you will need to bring in a third-party managed IT and a cybersecurity firm to create an entirely new system and set of best practices.
Perhaps the worst qualitative hit a small business and its leadership team takes is a tarnished reputation. Professionals in your industry will consider working with you and your organization risky. Unfortunately, a damaged reputation lingers long after the initial damage has been repaired.
Reliable Cybersecurity for Small Businesses
Entrepreneurs and small business leaders make difficult decisions about where to re-invest. However, given the rising ransomware demands, downtime costs, and suffering a tarnished reputation, cybersecurity for small businesses needs to be a priority.
Don’t allow your business and livelihood to get harvested like low-hanging fruit by cyber criminals. Sedulous works diligently with companies of all sizes to implement affordable, determined cybersecurity.