Small Business Cybersecurity in 2021
For small businesses, the thought of starting a cybersecurity strategy can be overwhelming, to say the least. If you’re new to cybersecurity, there’s a lot to know, and it’s intimidating, but with small businesses increasingly being the target of hackers, learning as you go is essential. The following are some of the foundational things to know about cybersecurity in 2021 as a small business.
According to CNBC, in a report at the end of 2019, around 43% of all digital attacks were going after small businesses. Two-thirds of global small and medium businesses had reported a digital attack in the previous year at the time of that report. It was even higher in the U.S. alone at 76%. Furthermore, there was a loss of data in 63% of those incidents. An even scarier statistic is that 60% of small and medium businesses that were victims of a data breach closed six months later.
The average cost of a cyber attack went from $34,000 to just under $200,000 per incident, according to the 2019 Cyber Readiness Report from Hiscox. Unfortunately, it’s nearly impossible for a small business to rebound from this kind of expense, particularly when they often don’t have insurance covering cyberattacks like larger businesses usually do.
No Organization Is Safe
The biggest and most damaging misconception is that any business or any industry is safe from cyber threats. It’s just not true. Even if you have two employees, every organization needs to have robust cybersecurity measures in place. You should look at the potential to be attacked as not if but when.
What Are The Threats?
Knowing the most high-risk threats to your business is an important part of protecting against them. For example, right now, remote workers are creating cybersecurity weaknesses. Your employees might work from home some or all of the time, or you might as well. There are so many endpoints that are vulnerable in this situation. For example, your employees’ devices might be unprotected, or they could be accessing work from public Wi-Fi.
Another big issue is phishing related to COVID. Whenever a crisis or something happens on a large scale, as is the case with the pandemic, it creates opportunities for scammers. According to Verizon, 22% of breaches in 2020 involved phishing. Phishing means that hackers send what look like legitimate emails, and then when you click the link or download the file, your company network is exposed.
Another big risk area for small businesses is a growing reliance on the cloud. Using the cloud is affordable and scalable, so it has many advantages for small businesses, but there are reduced centralized control and visibility, creating cybersecurity risks.
Ransomware is one of the most troubling threats for organizations of all sizes. The Colonial Pipeline hack emphasized the growing proliferation of ransomware attacks and how devastating they can be to a business.
It’s estimated that a business will be a victim of a ransomware attack every 11 seconds in 2021. If you have employees, you have to think about insider threats, intentional or due to human error. Unfortunately, human error accounts for the vast majority of cybersecurity breaches. So, what can you do?
Small Business Cybersecurity Tips
While the list is hardly exhaustive, there are some things you can do to protect your business in 2021 and into the next year. First, never underestimate how valuable you are to hackers. You should see yourself as what you are, which is an appealing and potentially easy target to these criminals.
You should back up everything because if you are the victim of something like a ransomware attack, you won’t be able to access your critical files and data; otherwise. Business continuity is essential even when you’re in the recovery phase.
Also, while you might invest in expensive tech tools to protect your business, you have to think about your employees. They are your first line of defense or your biggest weakness, depending on how you train them and show them the importance of cybersecurity.
Your employees should always be kept in the loop about everything related to cybersecurity. They should be frequently trained and retrained on best practices, and they need to know what to do if they see something that doesn’t seem right. The best technology in the world isn’t going to protect your small business without your employees knowing how to avoid cyberattacks.