We recently heard from a company whose entire business essentially shut down due to a malicious ransomware attack on their data. With outdated antivirus software, outdated firewalls, no backups in place, and outdated cybersecurity, their only option may be to pay the demanded ransom for their data.
This attack is extreme and is, unfortunately, quite common for small businesses. Too often, we hear small businesses say, “No one wants our data; we’re too small to be a target.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Small companies have the same risk of a cyber-attack as large corporations, and not being aware of this is precisely what makes them an easy target.
A study done by Verizon in 2020 noted that 43% of cyberattacks were on small businesses. Let’s look into why small businesses are targeted and what they can do to prevent attacks.
Why Are Small Businesses Targeted?
There are several reasons that cybercriminals attack and target small businesses. All of which can be avoided by prioritizing your data security and being diligent in staying up to date on security measures. The main reasons cybercriminals target small businesses are:
Lack of Funds: Small companies may not prioritize cybersecurity due to the additional expense. While cybersecurity is an extra cost, you may want to think about the above example where the company will most likely end up paying a ransom just to get access to their own data.
Vulnerability: Hackers know that small businesses can be more vulnerable than large corporate enterprises. When you’re focused on doing the most with a bare-bones staff, things like high-end security and employee training can easily fall off the radar. Hackers know this and can use it to their advantage.
Valuable Customer Data: Many small companies store their customer’s personal data, including their address, financial information, and even social security numbers. Pair this valuable data with a vulnerable security process, and it’s a big temptation for an attacker.
Used to Gain Access to Large Corporations: Some small businesses are employed by larger corporations (ex: a cleaning service for a substantial financial institution), and hackers can gain access to the larger corporation by hacking the smaller, easier-to-attack business.
The Most Common Attacks on Small Businesses
Not all attacks are alike. Cybercriminals can use different tactics to access your company’s data. Below are the most common attacks on small businesses.
Phishing is the most common and most successful attack on small businesses and large corporations alike. Phishing is when an attacker pretends to be a trusted contact, like an employee of a company you work with, a customer, or even one of your co-workers and coaxes you into clicking a malicious link or providing them with sensitive information.
Malware usually comes in the form of viruses or trojans through downloads from suspicious websites, spam emails, or by connecting to other infected devices. Malware can destroy devices, make for hefty replacement expenses, and get cybercriminals into your systems and access your data.
Another common form of cyber-attacks on small businesses, this is what happened to the business we mentioned earlier. Attackers gain access to your company’s data and then encrypt it so that it can no longer be accessed by anyone. In some cases, the only way to fix this is to pay the ransom demanded by the attacker.
What You Can Do to Protect Your Businesses
To prevent attacks like phishing, your business should at the very least provide training to employees on what phishing looks like and how to avoid becoming a victim. Better still, implementing email security that stops phishing attempts from even reaching an employee’s inbox is ideal and/or allows them to report it is ideal.
Preventing malware requires up-to-date anti-virus and anti-malware software on all company devices. Ensure employees keep these up to date, and if your employees use personal devices to do work, provide them with this security on their own devices to protect your data.
IITG can offer data protection no matter the size of your business. We provide up-to-date network security tools like updated anti-virus software or intrusion detection to secure your data. We can also work with you to create a disaster recovery plan to ensure you never lose any of your data in the event of a ransomware attack. If you’d like to work with us to create a comprehensive plan for your business, please contact us.