Small and midsized businesses (SMBs) deal with myriadchallenges in keeping their companies afloat and thriving.
Production,distribution, marketing, labor, research and development, customer service—theseare just a few areas that keep SMB owners and managers busy. Amid theseimportant everyday responsibilities, cybersecurity sometimes gets lost in theshuffle. Accordingto a 2017 survey by Manta, 87 percent of small businesses interviewed donot think they are at risk of a data breach.Unfortunately, companies of all sizes are not thatsafe from cyberattacks. SMBsecurity threats are plentiful, and they can be more damaging to yourorganization than you can imagine. If the aforementioned production,distribution, marketing, labor, research and development, and customer serviceare tied into your computer system, one precise cyberattack can take downeverything. Larger companies are bruised by such attacks but usually are ableto withstand the breach.
However, SMBs might never recover from a devastatingcyberattack—the margin of error is simply too slim to have their systems downfor a few days.One of the first and best defenses a SMBs can take isknowing what threats are out there and what measures they can take to counterthose threats. Many organizations choose to partner with athird-party expert to bolster their cybersecurity; others attempt to set uptheir own measures to protect their systems. Either way, here are four SMBsecurity threats that businesses in Southern California should be aware of: RansomwareRansomware is fast becoming the most serious threatfacing today’s SMBs.
Simply put, ransomware is a virus that infects a systemand encrypts data for the hacker, who essentially holds your system hostageuntil you pay a “ransom” to get it back under your control. Protecting againstransomware requires two strategies: robust backup systems so you can ditch theinfected data and start anew with minimal disruption, and preventing theransomware from ending up in your systems in the first place. The alternativeis paying the ransom or permanently losing access to data—and neither option ispalatable for SMBs already under tight budgets.
Phishing attacksPhishing relies upon email to trick users into openingunsafe attachments or providing personal and/or sensitive information (such asaccount logins and passwords). You would think by 2018, everyone would know notto open suspicious emails, but it still happens, in no small measure tophishing attacks becoming increasingly sophisticated (e.g., a fake subject lineof “There was a problem with your Amazon order” along with a deceptivelyconvincing email message) and simple human nature (who doesn’t want their Amazonorder to arrive on time?). Strong spam filters and firewalls, as well as bettereducation, can counter phishing attacks and deny the system access that the badguys are working hard to get from your unsuspecting employees.
Mobile insecurityOnce upon a time, really not that long ago, cybersecuritywas keeping just servers and computers safe. Laptops gradually changed this,but when smartphones and tablets exploded for business use, a whole newcybersecurity focus emerged. If anything, this focus is still emerging, with many SMBs not understanding or addressing thethreats they face with mobile devices. For example, a work computer mightrequire a login to turn on the machine, then a password to access the system,and other safeguards to get to email, chat, and so on. Users rarely set up allthose hoops on their smartphones—one lost or stolen device can give thefinder/thief unfettered access to your company.
Human errorUnless you are a tech SMB, most of your employees donot possess any sort of advanced IT knowledge. This isn’t their fault,necessarily, but it does inherently increase risk of a data breach. As alreadystated, employees might unwittingly open an email they shouldn’t open or leavetheir smartphone behind at the coffee shop. Or, they use weak passwords andfail to follow best practices with their system usage. Or, they start fiddlingwith servers and system controls and inadvertently weaken the company’scybersecurity.
Whatever the cause, human error is a significant security threatfor SMBs—one2015 survey attributed 37 percent of data breaches to people just being people.A diligenttechnology services partner can reduce much of this risk and educate your employeeson best practices so that they aren’t accidentally contributing to the struggleyou might face against hackers.What security threats has your SMB dealt with?