Have you felt more secure from cyber-attacks because you have a smaller business? Maybe you thought you couldn’t possibly have anything that a hacker could want? You may feel that a cybercriminal on the other side of the world has no way of even knowing that your business exists.
Well, a new report by cybersecurity firm Barracuda Networks debunks this myth. Their report analyzed millions of emails across thousands of organizations. It found that small companies have a lot to worry about regarding their IT security and cyber-attacks.
During the study, they found something alarming. Employees at small companies saw 350% more social engineering attacks than those at larger ones. A small company in this study is defined as one with less than 100 employees. Your small business is at a higher risk of falling victim to a cyber-attack. We’ll explore why below.
Why Are Smaller Companies Targeted More by Cyber-Attacks?
There are many reasons why cybercriminals see small businesses as low-hanging fruit. They are becoming larger targets of hackers out to cash in quickly on an attack.
Small Companies Tend to Spend Less on Cybersecurity
When you’re running a small business, it’s often a juggling act of where to prioritize your cash. You may know cybersecurity is important, but it may not be at the top of your list. So, at the end of the month, cash runs out, and it’s moved to the “next month” wish list of expenditures.
Small business leaders often don’t spend as much as they should on their IT security. They may buy an antivirus program and think that’s enough to cover them. But with the expansion of technology to the cloud, that’s just one small layer. You need several more for adequate security.
Cybercriminals know all this and see small businesses as an easier target for a cyber-attack. They can do much less work to get a payout than they would by attempting to hack into a large corporation.
Every Business Has Something Worth Hacking
Every business, even a one-person shop, has data that’s valuable to access in a cyber-attack. Most people think they are only after credit card numbers, but HR records, tax ID numbers, and email addresses are all desirable. Cybercriminals can sell these on the Dark Web. From there, other criminals use them for identity theft.
Here are some of the data that hackers will go after:
- Customer records
- Employee records
- Bank account information
- Emails and passwords
- Trade secrets
- Business pricing structure
- Payment card details
Small Businesses Can Provide Entry Into Larger Ones
If a cyber-attack can breach the network of a small business, it can often lead to a larger score. Many small companies provide services to larger companies. This can include digital marketing, website management, accounting, and more.
Vendors are often digitally connected to certain client systems. This type of relationship can enable a multi-company breach. While hackers don’t need that connection to hack you, it is a nice bonus. They can get two companies for the work of one.
Small Business Owners Are Often Unprepared for Ransomware
Ransomware has been one of the fastest-growing cyberattacks of the last decade. So far in 2022, over 71% of surveyed organizations experienced ransomware attacks.
The percentage of victims that pay the ransom to attackers has also been increasing. Now, an average of 63% of companies pay the attacker money in hopes of getting a key to decrypt the ransomware and return their operations to normal.
Even if a hacker can’t get as much ransom from a small business as they can from a larger organization, it’s worth it. They often can breach more small companies with less effort than attacking larger ones.
When companies pay the ransom, it feeds the beast and more cyber criminals join in. And those newer to ransomware attacks will often go after smaller, easier-to-breach companies.
Employees at Smaller Companies Usually Aren’t Trained in Cybersecurity
Cybersecurity awareness training is often not high on the list of priorities for a small business owner. They may be doing all they can just to keep good staff. Priorities are more often placed on sales and operations.
Training employees on how to spot phishing and password best practices often isn’t done. This leaves networks vulnerable to one of the biggest dangers, human error. In most cyberattacks, the hacker needs help from a user. It’s like the vampire needing the unsuspecting victim to invite them inside. Phishing emails are the device used to get that unsuspecting cooperation.
Phishing causes over 80% of data breaches.
A phishing email sitting in an inbox can’t usually do any harm. It needs the user to either open a file attachment or click a link that will take them to a malicious site. These actions launch the attack.
Teaching employees how to spot these ploys can significantly increase your cybersecurity. Cybersecurity awareness training is as important as having a strong firewall or antivirus.
Check out our previous blog post for more about why small businesses are a target for cyber-attacks.
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