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​Why Do Small Businesses Need to Be Up to Date on Cybersecurity?

Russell Nicolet

The advent of the internet has brought a wealth of opportunities for small business owners, enabling nearly anyone with a heart and mind for business owners to start a website and reach potential customers from down the street or across the world. However, for all of the benefits of owning your own small business, there are plenty of risks.

The same internet that opened the doors of opportunity can bring bad actors to it and place your data, the data of your customers, and even your company’s reputation at risk. Here is a look at why small businesses must be up-to-date on cybersecurity.

Small Businesses Are Vulnerable to Cyberattacks

​Why Do Small Businesses Need to Be Up to Date on Cybersecurity

Security Magazine explains that small businesses are preferred targets for cybercriminals because they typically do not have the cybersecurity protections that would be found in a more significant business with a bigger budget for IT security solutions. Nearly half of all businesses with fewer than 50 employees do not even have a budget for cybersecurity.

However, when a data breach occurs, they can be faced with paying even more than larger companies to deal with the situation because they lack a cybersecurity infrastructure to recover quickly from the breach.

Additionally, when there is a breach, a small business is more likely to use outdated systems or software that is no longer supported. They often lack a backup system that would allow them to easily recover the data lost due to the attack.

The Biggest Cybersecurity Risks Facing Small Businesses

Expert Insights reports that five cybersecurity issues pose the highest risk to small businesses of falling victim to data breaches, lost productivity, and even reputational damage.

  • Phishing attacks account for 90 percent of all data breaches faced by organizations of all sizes. Phishing attacks involve a bad actor pretending to be a trusted contact. The sender entices an email recipient to click a malicious link, download a malicious file, or otherwise give them access to sensitive information such as email passwords.
  • Malware attacks are often the product of phishing efforts in which the sender of an email provides a malicious link or attachment to the recipient. When the recipient clicks on the link or attachment, it causes spyware, viruses, or even device-crippling trojans to be installed on the recipient’s device, giving them access to sensitive information or causing their computer to stop running properly, resulting in lost productivity.
  • Ransomware attacks involve a bad actor encrypting company data so that it cannot be used or accessed without paying the bad actor for the right to have their data back. 71 percent of the victims of ransomware attacks are small businesses, Expert Insights reports, and the average ransom demand is around $116,000.
  • Weak passwords are easily guessed by bad actors, giving them access to important and private information about your business and its customers.
  • Insider threats, such as disgruntled employees, can access critical data from your company and exploit that data due to carelessness or even malice. It is estimated that insider threats account for around a quarter of all data security breaches experienced by businesses.
  • Cybersecurity Tips for Small Businesses

    According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), small business owners can avoid having their company fall victim to a cyberattack.

    These actions include:

    • Establishing security policies and practices and ensuring that all employees receive training. This training should consist of instruction on best practices to keep data secure and how to handle customer information securely.
    • Ensuring the software used during the company’s operations is up-to-date and includes an antivirus scan after each update.
    • Providing firewall security that prevents outsiders from accessing the data you have in your private network.
    • Creating a mobile device action plan that requires password protection on your team’s devices to conduct work-related business, encryption of data stored on those devices, and security apps that can protect the information even on public networks.
    • Backing up sensitive information such as spreadsheets, financial files, human resources, and accounts payable/receivable files regularly.
    • Creating user accounts for employees to control access or use of business computers by people not authorized to view stored data.
    • Ensuring that the Wi-Fi network used by the business is secure, encrypted, and hidden.
    • Limiting employee access to sensitive data and restricting the authority of employees to install software onto business computers.
    • Requiring employees to use unique passwords and change them every three months.

    Consider Partnering with a Managed IT Services Provider

    Russel Nicolet, founder & president of Nicolet Tech, Inc.

    The vulnerability to cyberattacks faced by small businesses results from lacking a budget for cybersecurity measures and the time to properly devote to protecting company data online.

    Small business owners often find themselves being “chief cook and bottle-washer,” both delivering the services of their company’s services and ensuring that employees are adequately trained and able to perform their job tasks. The last thing any small business owner needs to deal with when their plate is this full is the loss of data from a security breach, the loss of employee productivity due to worktime internet use, or the risk of losing all of their records through a ransomware attack.

    For companies who do not have the budget for an in-house IT team, working with a managed IT service provider offers the best of both worlds. You get the online data protection you need and assistance to ensure your computer system is up-to-date and equipped with the necessary software.

    You don’t have to worry about the costs of adding and training a new employee. Small business owners with managed IT services can focus on providing the products or services their customers need without worrying about the risk of a cyberattack.


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