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Data Breaches in Small Business

Data Breaches in Small Business

Data Breaches in Small Business are a Dime a Dozen

No business is too small to be targeted in a data breach. In fact, according to Fundera's small business cybersecurity statistics, 43 percent of cyberattacks are targeted against small businesses.

Small businesses are often attractive targets because they still have an abundance of sensitive data readily available, and they typically lack the security infrastructure of larger businesses.

Whether you’re a smaller Mom-and-Pop shop that handles all the paperwork, or you have an IT team that can help you with your cybersecurity needs, it’s a good idea to understand your risks and work to guard against them as best as possible.

A good start is by learning about some common cyber threats, understanding where your business may be vulnerable, and the steps you can take to improve your cybersecurity.

Common Cybersecurity Threats

According to Fundera, hacking incidents against small businesses grew 424 percent in 2020. In this rapidly evolving threat landscape, ransomware and phishing are two of the top cybersecurity threats to small businesses.

Ransomware is a specific type of malware that infects and restricts access to a computer and the sensitive data within it until a ransom is paid.

Phishing, a form of social engineering, involves tricking naïve users into divulging confidential information by clicking on a malicious file or link that contains some variation of malware.

Other trending threats include malware (trojans and viruses), ransomware-as-a-service, spear phishing, insider threats, and cryptojacking.

Related Reading: Ransomware Attacks on Small Businesses: How to Mitigate

Small Business Vulnerabilities

According to a recent survey by the U.S. Small Business Administration, 88 percent of small business owners felt like their business was vulnerable to a cyberattack. However, despite this, 47 percent of small businesses say they have no understanding as to how to protect themselves against an attack.

With small businesses facing setbacks and barriers to better cybersecurity like budget constraints, along with limited time to develop and devote resources to cybersecurity, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that 54 percent of small businesses don’t have a plan in place for reacting to a cyberattack.

But with the average cost of a cyberattack on small businesses sitting at around $36,000 to $50,000, this amount of money can have a devastating impact, as many businesses are less likely to be able to absorb these kinds of costs. In fact, for small companies, recovery from an incident can be next to impossible. It’s even estimated that 60 percent of small to medium businesses that are hacked go out of businesses within six months of the breach.

Related Reading: The Top 10 Cybersecurity Trends of 2021

How to Improve Cybersecurity

The first step to improving cybersecurity as a small business is understanding your risk of an attack and discovering where you can make the biggest improvements. This can work to provide an essential roadmap regarding what to do and when to do it. To help you, here are some key areas where improvements can be made in your small business.

Increase Team Member Awareness with Security Training

Security awareness training is a crucial component of modern-day cybersecurity. Awareness training informs and educates users on how to identify and report cyber threats. No matter how small your business it’s essential to train each member on cybersecurity protocols and make sure every employee adheres to these standards. Everyone you work with needs to be able to identify security threats, whether they come in the form of phishing emails or malicious software.

Employees also should be aware to stick to security policies when creating accounts and passwords, handling social media, and sharing sensitive data. Even with an outstanding cybersecurity setup, including the key software and hardware components, all it takes is a single careless team member for a breach to happen.

Say No to Unprotected Networks and Devices

Especially now with the rise in remote work, unprotected endpoints pose a significant risk to small businesses and are worth the investment. Safeguard your Internet connection by using a next-gen firewall and encrypting information. If you use Wi-Fi, make sure it’s secure or hidden, or consider utilizing a virtual private network (VPN) for added security.

Performing routine network vulnerability scans are a great way to test security controls in your network and can identify any lack of security or common OS misconfigurations.

Develop a Cybersecurity Response Plan

A lack of preparation for the worst-case scenario can have catastrophic consequences. If a security breach does happen, it’s critical to recognize it quickly and respond instantly to minimize the damage. Currently, only 14 percent of small businesses rate their ability to mitigate cyber risks and attacks as highly effective.

A proper cyber response plan will hold standardized practices and procedures designed to protect your business should a cyberattack occur.

Related Reading: Data Breach Response Plan Resources

Implement a Variety of Supplemental Tools

Supplemental tools like antivirus software, multi-factor authentication, and advanced email security are all great additions to consider as emails are the primary method for delivering malware and socially engineered attacks. As part of an in-depth defense approach, it’s a good idea to install spam filters and anti-malware software on all mail servers.

Some additional planning and assessment tools you could use to take measures to improve cybersecurity include a cybersecurity planning tool from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), a Cyber Resilience Review (CRR) from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and a cyber hygiene vulnerability screening from the DHS.

Conduct Penetration Testing

Penetration tests are simulated attacks against a network designed to test an IT security system. These tests are typically conducted by third parties who search for vulnerabilities to exploit in order to provide recommendations on improving security measures.

Protect Sensitive Data and Back Up the Rest

Keep your business’s sensitive data safe during transit and at rest with a managed file transfer (MFT) solution. An MFT solution provides a more secure way to transfer data and delivers automation ease and simplification. GoAnywhere MFT delivers its secure file transfer solution with dashboard-ease and automated workflows to make transferring data easier and more streamlined.

Additional ways to protect sensitive data include putting a data loss prevention (DLP) solution in place as this can help stop the transmission of data sent by mistake or hidden in metadata. It does this all before it ever leaves your organization through content inspection that proactively detects and redacts sensitive data.

For further protection, there are a number of data security suite solutions available that can help address encryption, data classification, and digital rights management.

It’s also important to regularly back up the data on all computers. Back up data automatically if possible, or at least weekly, and store the copies either offsite or on the cloud.

Don’t Become a Small Business Statistic

Understanding potential gaps in cybersecurity, addressing concerns, and proactively managing risks can mean the difference between a prosperous small business and one that is simply out of business.

The threat to small businesses is a complex one and the danger of cyberattacks can’t afford to be underestimated. But, like other business risks, it can be managed. The key is to build cyber resilience with data security.

See the HelpSystems data security suite in action by watching a demo.

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