Cybersecurity for Small and Medium Sized Businesses

  • June 26, 2023
  • By Cyberarch Admin

Small and medium businesses are under attack. We mean cyber-attack. Implementing smart security strategies is the way to go in 2023.

People often wrongly assume that cyber threats loom large only on government entities and large corporations, or those businesses forever connected to the internet. That’s false. Hackers are innately opportunists. They target assets such as sensitive data to earn quick bucks. And small businesses are low-hanging fruits with lower defences – perfect for notorious cyber criminals to pounce upon.

Take a look at Accenture’s recent cybercrime study:

  •       43% of cyber-attacks on small businesses in 2023
  •       86% of small businesses remain underprepared to combat cyber-attacks
  •       95% of breaches are caused by human error
  •       15% rise in cybercrime costs predicted by 2025
  • SMBs end up spending vast sums of money (between 800 dollars and 653,000 dollars on cybersecurity incidents)

The stats don’t lie. The dramatic spike in cyber-attacks is staggering, and it will continue in the future. But why the sudden surge, you may ask? That’s because SMBs are adopting advanced technologies and shifting to cloud infrastructure. Digital transformation and digital solutions have increased vulnerabilities, and cyber criminals are exploiting them to the hilt.

But all is not gloomy yet. A little tweak in the cybersecurity program, plus the use of smart strategies can help SMBs to protect themselves against cyber-attacks. Our experts share the best practices and measures to incorporate into everyday business operations.

Best Practices

Begin at the Top

Business leaders, managers and decision-makers should prioritise cybersecurity, and employees will follow. Develop a company-wide policy. Establish roles and responsibilities. Communicate effectively from time to time.Leaders at the top should understand the risks surrounding the business and take action to safeguard against them. There is not a single-fix solution for all cybersecurity problems. It is an ongoing and dynamic process.Small businesses will usually have one person to handle technology – the IT specialist. But make it clear that cybersecurity is the responsibility of everyone using the internet.

Develop a Security-first Culture

Spread the idea that collective responsibility towards online safety is key to countering cyber-attacks. Ensure the rules and regulations are followed. Encourage active participation of all employees.Train employees about the importance of cyber security. Educate about the latest and advanced means cyber criminals use to dupe victims. Clearly state the do’s and don’ts of social media platforms, web-browsing, smartphone and gadget use and other devices. Employees should be trained to recognize cyber attack attempts or data breach traps.Go beyond employees. Take creative and innovative measures to promote cybersecurity good practices among associates, stakeholders and business partners. Make the whole enterprise environment cyber secure.

Take Actions to Cyber Secure Your Business

Antivirus Software

Yes, antivirus software is important, but that’s not enough. What do we mean? Small businesses use security software like antivirus and antimalware by default. However, updating and upgrading the software is key to combating the latest cyber-attacks and preventing them from breaching security protocols. In addition, update all the devices such as mobile phones, computer systems, and smart devices connected to the internet. Apply the patches developers release as soon as possible. They are essential for security.

Data Backup

Back up sensitive and critical data regularly. In case a data breach occurs, lost, damaged or compromised data can be restored and used. Backup also helps in the event of accidental deletion of files, system failures, data corruption and theft.The best practice is to back up data every day. Small businesses can backup data using software, the cloud or an external drive. Cloud storage has its own perks and limitations, therefore, study them before making the decision.

Email and Web Content Filtering

Emails are one of the prominent mediums cybercriminals use to gain physical access to systems. Expect infected emails in the form of phishing, spam, or malware at any time in the inbox.Use a spam filter to thwart unrecognised attacks in the form of spam. Educate about potential spam emails. It is a red flag if you see – an unknown sender, poor writing and phrasing, and demands personal information. Web filtering follows the same principle as that of email. Train employees to use the internet safely. Avoid clicking on websites without a padlock symbol and https preceding the website URL.

Macros and Extensions

Microsoft macros and extensions may seem to be innocent. But that may not be the case. Microsoft only uses trusted resources to automate tasks. However, cybercriminals can create macros and use them to infect the computer. Extensions on browsers are third-party programs that help improve functionality but can compromise the security of the application and the system.Similarly, software installations often offer third-party applications which require access permission. Avoid them as much as possible.The best practice is to shut down unwanted applications and programs to gain access to the system.

Manage External Services

Small businesses, especially in retail, rely upon POS terminals for financial transactions every day. The financial services platforms and payment devices are vulnerable to attacks. Always make sure to know the security features of such services and use robust credentials and passwords. Third-party cloud solutions have become a rage today. But they are constantly under attack due to a lack of visibility. SMBs must have a cloud security strategy in place. End-to-end encryption, vulnerability assessment and secure data transfers are necessary measures to counter ransomware and data breaches.

Firewalls

Every small business, more or less, has firewall protection. It is the most common and efficient cyber security solution to combat cyber-attacks, protect websites, and unauthorised access to sensitive data. IT experts can monitor all traffic and carry out network inspections too. Additionally, firewalls enhance privacy, protect against phishing and alert any malicious attempt to gain access to the system.

Network Security

Network Security mechanisms include firewalls, encryption and access control to provide enhanced security to the network. It maintains data integrity before transferring to another system and prevents unauthorised access. A few ways SMBs can implement network security protocols include multi-factor authentication, antivirus and secure wireless connections. Network security is essential for business continuity too.

Small and medium businesses aiming to go big should care about cybersecurity goals. Ignore it at your own peril, as losses can be staggering. Given the rising tendency of cybercriminals to attack small businesses, the security industry as a whole is under pressure. Smart strategies discussed can improve the security posture of the organisation. Plus, reinforcing the security programs with the latest security technology and approaches at regular intervals will help too. If you still lack the expertise or the capabilities, always seek the help of professional cybersecurity experts or service providers around you.

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