When it comes to cybersecurity, small business owners often assume they’ll go unnoticed; it’s easy to think that expensive cyber crime only happens to the big guys. However, small and medium sized businesses are actually much MORE susceptible to costly breaches, and even worse, the costs can threaten to wipe them out. As a small or medium sized business owner, your knowledge and preparation are crucial to the safety of your organization.
The evolution of the hybrid model — where employees are moving between work and home — has exacerbated the security issues even further. Small and medium sized businesses typically work from a patchwork of cloud based applications, and they’re not centralized (or secured) under a large IT team. As they move between the office and other remote locations, small business employees often rig up their own workarounds in order to optimize their productivity. In many cases, the IT teams in these small businesses aren’t even aware of all the applications in use, and they don’t have the chance to vet them.
Cybersecurity Threats Are a Serious Risk to Small and Medium Sized Businesses
Naivety can be one of the biggest risks to your company’s cybersecurity. A lack of awareness of risk can lead to uneven and nonexistent security measures. One of my clients hoped that locking their server cabinet would be an effective method, while PPI (personally identifiable information) was easily accessible on their employee devices. Hackers know these weaknesses exist, and they will exploit them. In 2020, the cost of cybersecurity breaches in the US topped out at $8.64 billion — the highest of any country.
Mobile Devices Pose a Cybersecurity Risk
The digital transformation has allowed employees to lean heavily on our mobile devices to accomplish work, and this is especially true for small and medium businesses used to bootstrapping solutions. I’ve talked with clients who routinely make company monetary transfers on their unsecured personal phones. Many have their full names, addresses, social security numbers, credit card numbers on their phones without multi-authentication or even a password enabled to protect them.
Mobile devices are particularly susceptible to malware, and in Q1 of 2021, Kaspersky found that 61% of all threats came directly from Adware. Hackers can use “smishing” (phishing, but using SMS messaging on phones) to grab bank information. A wealth of information can be included in unsecured work emails. As the digital transformation progresses, the line between personal work on private devices and professional work on those same devices becomes more blurred, and employees become vulnerable to slip-ups.
Cloud Based Architecture Requires Enhanced Cybersecurity
Small and medium businesses must quickly learn to navigate the reality of hybrid teams, and many are using cloud-based architecture. Sometimes, this means a hodgepodge of both private and public clouds. In the past, employees only did work on secured machines in the office, but now, they’re accessing info from anywhere. This means security must pivot with the work environment. Figure out what your employees are using, and ensure that it’s secured.
Confidential Computing Can Help Reduce Risk
A cloud computing technology called confidential computing is another essential tool. Sensitive data is isolated in a secure CPU enclave during processing, which can dramatically reduce the risk of a data breach. It’s worth researching and implementing these options, especially as a small or medium sized business.
Cybersecurity Insurance Can Reduce Risk of Harm from Hackers
Investing in cloud-based security solutions is a must. When a small business experiences a ransomware attack, they often have no choice but to pay good money to bad actors. In these cases, the risk of cybersecurity has now become a business risk.
Investing in cybersecurity insurance can be a savvy move. On average, data breaches cost companies $3.86 million annually, and cyber insurance can help companies recoup some of that cost. This is particularly important if your business is small, and even one significant data breach can be enough to sink the ship.
Remote Employee Logins Pose a Security Risk
Gone are the days of logging in only at the office. Though systems are pivoting to allow remote logins, security often lags behind. It’s important to implement multi-factor authentication techniques across all platforms to ensure security.
Facing Risk with Information and Ingenuity
It’s important to acknowledge that spending time thinking about risk can often lead to fear. It’s our choice as professionals and industry leaders to face real risks with the courage of smart decisions. Don’t be paralyzed by cybersecurity risk; use it to propel you forward into the digital transformation. If you’re struggling to get your footing, let’s talk.