Small Business Cyber Security

What You Need To Know About Small Business Cyber Security

It’s critically important for you to protect your business against cyber-attacks, irrespective of whether you’re a bigger company with employees or a sole trader.

In this article, we’ll discuss why small businesses don’t feel equipped to handle cyber threats, the attacks that are most common, and how you can protect your business better.

Guide to cyber security for small businesses

According to research done by Arctic Wolf, a security operations firm, nearly 75% of small businesses don’t have the expertise or capability to withstand cybersecurity attacks.

This is at a time when cyber threats have become increasingly refined and businesses are more vulnerable than ever due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In this article, we’ll help you find ways in which you can protect your business.

Cyber Security Defined

Cyber security is taking action to protect online services and devices we use from damage or theft. This includes laptops, smartphones, computers, and tablets, as well as preventing unauthorized access to your customers’ personal data stored on your systems.

Many people mistakenly believe cyber security should only be done for massive multinational businesses, but it’s crucial for all businesses.

You may store credit card details and take online payments, collect data from your customers, or have an online shop. This information is all vulnerable to data breaches and cyber-attacks.

Together with a detailed cyber security policy, you should also implement a privacy policy on your website that details how you collect and store data.

The Importance of Cyber Security

As mentioned above, cyber security is important for protecting your business from online threats such as damage, extortion, and theft. Hackers may attempt to gain unauthorized access to sensitive data, passwords, personal information, financial data, or intellectual property to cause your business harm.

Reputational damage, data breaches, and financial loss are just a few of the risks of cyber-attacks.

If your business has grown beyond a certain size, you may even consider hiring cyber security analysts.

According to Simply Business’ Cyber Security Analyst, Julia Studholme, cybersecurity is at the forefront of organizations of all sizes, now, more than ever. Cyberattacks often make front-page news, but apart from the reputational damage businesses may suffer, they can also cause a massive amount of business disruption. Apart from the headlines, there is typically much more damage to business operations like financial losses, data loss, and system outages.

Cybersecurity Is Fundamental To Keep A Business Safe

A UK Business Digital Index was recently published by Lloyds Bank and it highlights how cyber security actions are key to keeping a business safe. According to the report, there are key cyber security activities that all businesses should undertake:

1. Back up critical business data

2. Keep software up to date

3. Establish procedures and policies to protect against fraud

4. Put password policies in place that reflects best practice

5. Connect devices to secure networks

The research however also found that only 50% of businesses manage to do implement all five of these actions, while 30% of businesses connect to unsecured WiFi networks knowingly.

What Is ‘Alert Fatigue?’

A survey done by Arctic Wolf, a security operations firm of more than 500 medium and small business owners, shows that many small businesses experiencing cyber security ‘alert fatigue.’

Alert fatigue could result in many businesses ignoring important warnings as they receive so many each week.

Nearly 39% of business owners said in the survey they were overwhelmed by the number of security alerts their businesses received, with many getting as many as 75 alerts per day.

A business that pays no attention to crucial security alerts may put itself at risk of a data breach or cyberattack, especially if the right protection is not in place.

Are Cyber Threats A Low Priority For Small Businesses?

Many firms are challenged by trying to balance core business activity with the importance of cyber security.

The Arctic Wolf’s study shows that 55% of business owners regularly deprioritize cyber issues in favor of other business activities.

Furthermore, 34% of respondents said they don’t have time to investigate every alert or threat.

Many small businesses feel that cyber security is a low priority for them as they believe hackers will more likely go after bigger organizations.

Verizon’s 2021 Data Breach Investigation Report however shows that 28% of data breaches in 2020 were at small businesses.

What Are Common Threats Of Cyber Attacks?

A cyberattack happens when hackers try to destroy information, steal data or disable systems by gaining unauthorized access to a computer or network system.

The ENISA (European Union Agency for Cybersecurity) has published a list of common cyber-attacks made on small and medium-sized businesses:

• Malware – software designed to gain unauthorized access to computers and cause damage, e.g. viruses

• Phishing attack – fraudulent emails asking a person to share banking details and passwords

• Denial-of-service attack – an attack that tries to shut down systems in a company so it can’t function

• Malicious insiders – attempts by former employees or employees who have access to systems to breach sensitive data

Preventing Cyber-Attacks Against A Business

It’s important to create a strong defense against cyber-attacks and these procedures need to be reviewed regularly as the technology used for attacks develops very fast.

Some of the simple things that can be done to prevent cyber attacks include:

• Back up data – if you were to be hit by a cyberattack, having your business-critical information backed up can help you recover

• Update software – one easy way to protect a business is to install updates as soon as they become available

• Train employees –employees need to be able to work safely online and should know what to watch out for, and how signs of a cyber attack should be reported

• Stay alert – don’t fall into the trap of alert fatigue by keeping up-to-date with security threats

• Use password protection – office phones and equipment should always be protected by strong passwords, and crucial accounts (such as banking) should have two-factor authentication configured

What Is Cyber Insurance?

As the number of cyberattacks continues growing, cyber insurance may help to protect a small business.

This kind of insurance may be beneficial for businesses that keep sensitive data like personal customer details, use online computer systems and software, or have a services agreement with a merchant in the payment card industry (PCI).

The Impact of the Pandemic On Cyber Security

According to the ENISA, the Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in small businesses becoming much more vulnerable to cyber security breaches, like Man-in-the-Middle attacks.

Increased remote work and the use of contactless payment systems have provided attackers with new target opportunities.

This is supported by the 2021 Data Breach Investigation Report by Verizon, which indicates that 22% of small and medium-sized businesses have since March 2020 had a security breach due to remote working.

Remote Working Adds Complexity

Julia Studholme from Simply Business says that since the pandemic started, widespread adoption of remote working has added another layer of complexity as far as cybersecurity risks are concerned. Companies not only have to worry about all their own devices on the corporate networks, but they have to take into account devices that are connected to their employees’ home networks, over which they don’t have much visibility.

Studholme adds that one of the main threats businesses have to face nowadays is cloud vulnerabilities. Businesses have become prime targets for attackers due to the adoption of cloud-based infrastructure and services and in many cases, multi-cloud adoption.

Although it may be virtually impossible to stop every cyber breach, small businesses can be protected in a post-pandemic market if they create obstacles for hackers to get around and implement as many layers of defense as possible.

This could include training staff regularly about cyber security threats and multi-factor authentication technology.

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