Demystifying Cybersecurity for a Small Business

Demystifying Cybersecurity for a Small Business

If you’re running a small business and you’re not thinking about cybersecurity, you need to be. Your business is reliant on technical tools and online systems, but this reliance adds a level of complexity that you don’t plan for and don’t have the IT staffing to address adequately. As a business owner, you’ve invested your time,  your hard effort, and your personal finances to establish a business. A cyberattack can set your business back financially and impact the reputation that you’ve worked so hard to create.

Your workers use computers, tablets, mobile phones, and other internet-enabled devices. Your office uses wireless devices like printers and security systems, all connected through your wireless network. Whether you use onsite hardware or rely on cloud-based systems, each point of connection to the internet is a potential gateway to a cyberattack into your network, devices, and accounts. 

What is cybersecurity?

Cybersecurity is the practice of defending all of your electronic assets from malicious attacks on your WiFi network. Your network is simply an internet connection that's shared with multiple devices in your home or business through a wireless router. As it generally applies, cybersecurity covers the following practices:

  • Securing your network from intruders

  • Keeping devices and software free of threats

  • Creating processes and permissions for keeping important data safe

  • Preparing response plans for addressing a cyberattack

  • Following cybersecurity hygiene tips to reduce the risk of a cybersecurity compromise

To truly be secure, all of these things need to be secure — network, devices, accounts, and data. If one element is exposed, it’s a weak link in your security chain. It’s like locking the doors of your home but leaving a window open. 

Many small businesses lack adequate cybersecurity

Small businesses are an attractive target for cybercriminals primarily because they are easier targets than larger organizations. These businesses face the same threat landscape that confronts larger organizations, but without the internal staffing and dedicated resources to provide the proper cybersecurity. On top of this, cybersecurity usually isn’t a priority, given everything else that’s needed to manage the day-to-day operations. For these reasons, many of these businesses often leave themselves highly vulnerable to attacks. In any given year, more than 2 out of 3 small businesses in the U.S. can expect to experience a cyberattack.

When a cyberattack succeeds, the losses can add up. Smaller firms were prominent among those suffering the largest losses relative to the size of business. Micro firms with fewer than 10 employees faced a median cost of all attacks of about $8,000. But about 5% of small businesses suffered more significant losses of $308,000 on average. 

Common cyberattacks

Cybercriminals often use malware for their cyberattacks. Malware, which is short for malicious software, is a broad category for any type of software that a cybercriminal has created to disrupt or damage a device. Malware is frequently spread through an email attachment or downloaded as a disguised file or camouflaged link. Malware includes viruses, trojans, spyware, ransomware, adware, and botnets (networks of infected computers).

Another common attack is phishing, which is when cybercriminals use emails, text messages, or other communications to dupe the victim into revealing sensitive personal information. The criminals disguise their communications well, and even a careful and alert individual can be tricked by their methods.

Then there’s ransomware, one of the most common cyberattacks that hits thousands of businesses every year. Ransomware involves encrypting company data so it can’t be accessed and then forcing the company to pay a ransom to unlock the data. Small businesses are especially at risk from these types of attacks. According to our 2021 Unit 42 Ransomware Threat Report, the average ransom paid by organizations in the U.S., Canada, and Europe increased from $115,123 in 2019 to $312,493 in 2020. That’s a year-over-year increase of 171%. 

Cyberattackers know that smaller businesses are more likely to pay a ransom because they often don’t have backups of their data and they can’t afford the disruption of business. For any businesses impacted, it’s a painful and costly lesson. More recently, double extortion ransomware has become more prevalent. This is where the cyberattackers don’t just lock up your data, they access your data and threaten to leak it online or sell it to the highest bidder if you don’t pay up. In many cases, businesses believe their only alternative is to pay the ransom (or maybe negotiate it down) and hope that puts an end to it.

Antivirus software alone may not provide adequate cybersecurity

Cybercriminals are targeting smaller businesses with increasingly sophisticated attacks. Alarmingly, roughly 80% of the victims reported that the cyberattack was not picked up by their antivirus software. Cyberattackers have learned to keep ahead of the virus protection systems and are targeting their attacks in ways that can often evade detection. The threat landscape has changed, evolving faster than the antivirus programs can keep pace with. New cyberattacks from all over the world are emerging daily.

Firewalls alone may not provide adequate cybersecurity

A firewall is a security system that’s designed to prevent unauthorized access into or out of a computer network. Most internet providers, routers, and operating systems include built-in firewall protection, but firewalls alone don’t provide adequate security. Cyberattackers are learning to bypass firewalls with sophisticated attacks. 

One major way that cyberattackers avoid firewalls is by gaining access through a smart device (also known as an IoT device), like a printer, security camera, or speakers connected to your WiFi network. Incorporating online features into smart devices provides convenience that we’ve come to expect. Yet without proper protections, these devices can provide entry points for intruders to gain access to your network and other computing devices.

You need comprehensive and trusted cybersecurity

With the vast range of cyberthreats out there, small businesses need protection with a comprehensive cybersecurity solution that takes care of the heavy lifting. A solution that secures your network from intruders and keeps your devices and software free of threats.

Okyo Garde is built on threat intelligence technology by Palo Alto Networks that is trusted by 96% of Fortune 100 companies for their enterprise cybersecurity. To learn more about how Okyo Garde can protect your business from cyberthreats, visit Okyo.

Editorial note: Our articles provide educational information to help keep you protected. Our products may not secure you against every type of cyberthreat, crime, or fraud. Our goal is to increase awareness and raise attention to cyber safety. If you choose to use Okyo Garde, please review the complete terms during purchase and setup.

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