If you’re like most small business owners, learning everything you can about SMB cybersecurity is a top priority this fall. New and more sophisticated attacks are leaving small business owners more vulnerable to financial losses, data breaches, cybercriminal activity, and other issues than ever, and many are not taking the proper cybersecurity measures to protect their investments.
2020 has seen a significant increase in remote work, online learning, and eCommerce, and this reliance on the internet has opened the door to more innovative and aggressive types of cyberattacks. Fortunately, most can still be prevented by taking cutting-edge IT security measures that were designed with modern threats in mind.
This guide will give you an overview of some of the most common cybersecurity trends to watch for this year.
Why Is Cybersecurity Important For Small Businesses?
Cybercrime has been a concern for as long as the internet has been used for business purposes, but many SMB owners are just starting to store their critical company data online instead of in paper files. Here are a few facts about this shift:
- The convenience of storing such assets on computers comes with more risk of that information falling into cybercriminals’ hands, however — something that could result in massive losses.
- Many hacking incidents end in a company losing hundreds of thousands of dollars, and the wrong type of data breach will lead to losing customers — and much of the trust of those that remain.
- Remote work has become more common over the last decade, but an exceptionally high number of people have been forced to become tech-savvy during the COVID-19 pandemic. They have gained a deeper understanding of cybersecurity for their own purposes, which often leads them to question what the companies they purchase products and services from are doing to protect their personal information.
The bottom line? You need to be prepared to protect your SMB against cybercrime.
SMB Cybersecurity Trends
The capabilities of the internet have expanded exponentially over the last few decades, and with that growth has come a higher level of damage if a small business’s online data security is compromised. Fortunately, cybersecurity experts have responded to emerging threats by creating new security features and programs. Here are some of the most popular trends within the cybersecurity industry this fall
1. Small Businesses Are More Vulnerable
A decade ago, most hackers focused their efforts on large companies and rarely bothered with small businesses. Most large companies have since tightened up their cybersecurity procedures, however, and many SMBs have not yet implemented adequate measures — even though they depend on the internet to function. This gap has left the smallest firms among the most vulnerable to ransomware and other threats, with approximately 66 percent of SMBs experiencing some type of cyberattack in 2019 (resulting in an average loss of $500,000). These attacks are detrimental to SMBs.
2. Next-Gen Firewalls Are Expanding on Previous Capabilities
Although some firewall software has been available to protect computers for decades, not all these systems are created equal. Next-generation firewalls (NGFWs) expand upon older software’s capabilities to increase the protection they can provide for more complex devices. They adapt to the needs of modern cyber threats with a stronger focus on blocking malware than earlier models, too, and their antivirus, encryption, and traffic filtering systems are more cutting-edge to handle various categories of threats.
3. Secure Access Controls Help Prevent Inside Cyberattacks
Unfortunately, there is no way to guarantee that every cyber threat your SMB may face will come from outside your company. Larger firms are generally more vulnerable to threats from within their organizations than smaller ones, but using strong password protection for sensitive business information and other types of access controls ensures only authorized individuals can access information like financial details.
4. Cloud Storage Requires More Complex Protection
Cloud storage makes storing a large amount of information easier than it has ever been, but it also adds another access point for hackers that needs to be securely protected. If your small business utilizes Google Drive or a similar online storage system, it is crucial to make sure the cloud hosting provider you are working with complies with all security regulations. This is particularly important if your business deals with high numbers of confidential files, such as customers’ financial or healthcare information. A breach of this data from not taking proper precautions to secure your cloud storage could cause harm to not only your business, but also your customers.
5. Current Small Business Cybersecurity Threats
Most SMBs depend on the internet in 2020, both for working with customers and for keeping the business running. The last decade has seen an increase in eCommerce businesses that function fully online, which means that both watching closely for older more-familiar types of cybersecurity threats and staying informed about new ways that hackers may be targeting your technology are crucial elements of protecting your modern small business.
6. Phishing Remains a Significant Threat
Phishing has been a common online scams for as long as cybersecurity has been an issue, and it remains a major threat to SMBs in 2020. This type of cybersecurity threat can be found on websites, but it is more common to receive an unusual email or text message that asks for personal information or contains dangerous links that install malware on your device if they are clicked on.
Be aware that most legitimate companies will never ask for passwords, bank account details, or other sensitive information via email or text message. Also, do your best to avoid clicking on links from addresses you do not recognize — particularly if they contain the poor grammar, unusual or inappropriate tones, or threats of immediate account closure that are signs of phishing attacks and meant to convince you to submit information without thinking it through.
7. Increase in Cryptocurrency Use Leads to Rise in Cryptojacking
Although cryptocurrency was once thought to be a secure option, its anonymous nature and fully digital functionality mean Bitcoin and similar technologies have also become significant threats. Cryptojacking, also known as cryptomining, removes the step of having to demand money during an attack. Instead, the hacker simply takes over the business’s device and uses it to create his own digital money. Cryptojacking generally occurs through clicking an unsafe link in a phishing email or on a website, which results in the installation of a type of code that is used for cryptomining. This code slows down the device as it runs in the background and can lead to more significant problems.
Difficulty Understanding Cyberattack Threats
An unintended result of the new technology available to combat modern cybersecurity threats is that some small business owners do not understand how to interpret and respond to the information the software is giving them. For example, 77 percent of surveyed business owners said they found it challenging to get adequate results from the security alerts they received, which indicates that better technology does not always mean better protection.
Do You Need Help Combating Cybersecurity Threats?
Fortunately, there are steps you can take if you are running into problems getting the most out of your cybersecurity measures. Working with a cybersecurity expert you trust can be an efficient way to get your questions answered and ensure you are ready to respond appropriately to potential cyber threats.
Running a successful small business starts with having a secure cyber infrastructure. From storage of confidential information to keeping in touch with customers, the vast majority of SMBs depend on consistent and secure internet access to function properly in 2020, and going the extra mile to improve your business’s overall cybersecurity is crucial. The team at Option3Ventures is here to help you make sure you are getting the most out of your cybersecurity investment. Contact us today to learn more.