Recently it has become common to read breaking news about a significant cybersecurity breach at a major corporation. These stories dominate the news and lead to the idea that cybersecurity should only be the concern of large corporations. This is untrue, as some 43% of data breaches impact SMBs, according to a recent report.
SMBs tend to be softer targets for hackers and threat agents because their cybersecurity systems are not as robust. As many as one in three SMBs have no recognisable cybersecurity system.
Here are some reasons why smart SMB owners need to take it more seriously:
1. SMBs face the same threats as big businesses
Threat actors are finding fewer reasons to concentrate their efforts on large businesses only. Where once it was thought that big corporations were the best targets for ransomware and other attacks, SMBs are being targeted in increasing numbers. Hackers realise that SMBs also have reputations to protect and they also have access to funds to pay cybercriminals if required.
2. Quality IT consulting services are now available to all
As the internet has changed the way the world works, it has also democratised previously niche services. IT consulting services were once primarily interested in the money available from big business. But as more tailored and affordable product offers open up, it is just as easy to get IT support in Cairo as it is IT support Los Angeles.
Besides these services, it is also a good idea for SMBs to be good at the basics of self-protection. These include updating software regularly, educating employees how to deal with threats, and implementing a crisis response plan. Other measures like multi-factor authentication and good online habits like strong password protection can go some way towards not leaving everything to a cybersecurity system.
3. IT breaches are expensive
The vast majority of malicious attacks are financially motivated. The costs of resolving an attack can cripple a business. The toll is not only financial. Many victims find their operations severely disrupted for extended lengths of time. This causes a loss of customer trust and other unwanted effects such as loss of market share. The road to recovery from a severe breach can be a long one.
4. Interconnected devices are risky
One of the great benefits of cloud computing is the ability to access files from a number of different devices. The trouble is that many times, SMB employees in particular use unsafe home devices, which expose company devices and systems to risk. Employees often use unsecured networks while working remotely. With no advice or training to modify behaviour, staff unknowingly expose the company to cyber threats.
It is particularly common for SMBs to have a range of different hardware items at their disposal if they have grown too fast. IT security policies are also not consistent and do not cater for growth. Many SMBs have a range of different hardware items from different manufacturers. This indicates a procure-as-you-grow approach which shows that IT practices may not have been coordinated. In this environment, threats can enter.
5. Protecting client data is a key responsibility
SMBs often hold large amounts of client data from project collaborations. This information may be housed on an extranet or on hard drives. Either way, protecting a customer’s data is any firm’s largest priority.
Those companies who have had sensitive customer information such as credit card details stolen from them know all too well the public backlash. Vocal customers who relay a negative experience can do much to hurt a brand. Competitors are also quick to seize on any data lapse and will naturally try to take market share.
6. The reputation of your business is at stake
It is not uncommon for businesses to fail soon after a cyber attack. As we have seen, a large driving factor is the loss of reputation. In a world of infinite competitor choice, it can be difficult to recover from a high-profile breach.
If reputation loss happens and market share loss follows, this can be a hammer blow to many SMBs who are just not set up for the fallout. Smart SMB owners should be thinking about the hurdles around the corner. These yet unrealised disasters that can sink a business should be addressed as soon as practically possible.
7. SMBs are a soft target
SMB owners are often distracted with the more pressing issues of growth and survival. Many times their IT services, be they in-house, or outsourced, are not adequate for the requirement of the SMB. Many owners leave cybersecurity measures by the wayside, because only the noisy wheel gets the oil.
By underestimating the threat level, SMBs leave themselves wide open to attack. Many SMB owners believe that they don’t have anything worth stealing. This is untrue, and is often proven to be so when a threat actor appears demanding a ransom for sensitive client information. SMB owners should constantly be testing their IT systems for vulnerabilities in the way large corporations do.
Cybersecurity is more than just an anti-virus program or a firewall. It is a concentrated and organised effort to plug all the potential holes in your system. Therefore, your IT consulting services partner must have a robust threat protection plan that includes defense, detection and fallout mitigation in case you fall victim to a cyber-attack.
For SMB owners, coming back from a bad attack can take all the resources they have. Frequently they fail. This is why smart SMB owners know that prevention, in this case, is much preferable to a cure. Robust cybersecurity measures are not only the domain of large corporations.