This article was first published on our media partner aiTechPark.
Small and mid-sized businesses are at a higher risk of cyberattacks and often serves as a Launchpad for larger threat campaigns, according to Cisco’s 2018 SMB Cybersecurity Report.
SMBs are easy targets for malicious cyber agents because they don’t tend to have multiple levels of security measures. The purpose of multiple layered security approaches is to make sure that every layer has a defensive component to counter any flaws or gaps in other defenses of security.
Mid-sized companies could be targeted more, as they have more valuable assets than smaller businesses but lesser security layers than bigger enterprises. As per the survey by Osterman Research “Midsized organizations not only received more phishing emails than smaller companies did, they even ranked ahead of larger enterprises.” Not only the businesses but non-profit organizations like churches also get threats from cybercriminals.
Primary Cyber Risks
The usual impact of cyberattacks can be destructive for SMBs as they are vulnerable to having their whole operations disrupted by the attack, and the businesses would take a long time to recover or might never recover at all.
On an average, small and mid-sized firms are at a greater risk for the following than their larger counterparts are:
1. Cyber Risks: They come with external threats, including attacks that hit by malware like ransomware, cryptocurrency miners and botnets.
2. Data Risks: These risks consist of the loss of critical and often confidential data such as consumer database and trade secrets. Generally, SMBs that outsource the data-related work of large organizations are particularly vulnerable to data breaches.
3. Human Capital Risks: Generally, these risks occur due to a lack of trained IT security personnel, or because of a lack of cybersecurity education given to the company’s employees.
4. Infrastructure Risks: These risks generally occur with the uncertainty on how to secure IoT devices properly, cloud services and server environments.
5. Operations Risks: These risks generally involve financial damage, disruption of operations and lost often a loss of intellectual property. It can cause flaws in security infrastructure as a result.
THE STUDY FOUND 43% OF SMB OWNERS HAVE NO CYBERSECURITY DEFENSE PLAN IN PLACE AT ALL – LEAVING THEIR MOST SENSITIVE FINANCIAL, CUSTOMER AND BUSINESS DATA, AND ULTIMATELY THEIR COMPANIES, AT SIGNIFICANT RISK.
Challenges and Limitations
1. Phishing and Spear Phishing:
Despite of continuous warnings by the cyber security experts and industries, people still fall victim to phishing every day. As cybercrime has become one of the most well-funded and increasingly sophisticated, phishing will remain one of the most effective methods used by cybercriminals to introduce malware into businesses.
Spear phishing is a targeted form of phishing – where phishing emails are designed to originate from someone the recipient knows or have a similar id exist in the contact book. Twitter It is usually from the senior management or a valued client. If someone is tricked by a malicious link in a phishing email, they might unleash a ransomware attack on the business. After gaining access, ransomware will lock the business servers/ systems until the ransom is paid.
To avoid such risk caused by phishing and ransomware, SMBs need to ensure the team is aware of the dangers and know how to spot a phishing email. Companies need to ensure their backups of the critical data. As ransomware locks down files permanently, backups become the crucial safeguard to recover from the hack.
2. Cloud is not safe from Security flaws:
As the cloud offers flexibility and extensibility, it makes the cloud technology more compelling to SMBs. Business owners can focus on core competences by outsourcing IT and cloud security services. However, the huge concern will still exist for the SMBs when it comes to data and IT security. Although it’s getting more secure day by day, but the new vulnerabilities and loose ends will make it a security concern worth paying attention to.
3. Lack of Cybersecurity Knowledge:
Without any kind of drive to ensure employees possess the primary level of cyber security knowledge, any measure or policy implemented would be undermined. Cybersecurity strategies, policies and technologies are of no use, if employees lack cyber security awareness.
Usually, many employees do not care or to know how to protect themselves online or in the cyber world, and this loophole might end up putting the business at risk. Companies should hold training sessions to help employees to manage passwords and identify phishing attempts. Provide support to make sure employees have enough resources to be secure. Eventually, an elementary level of knowledge and awareness would make the difference between being hacked and avoiding the risk altogether.
4. DDoS Attacks:
DDoS attacks mean – Distributed Denial of Service attacks – it ambushes business with a large amount of web traffic, slows down the website to a crawl, and might end up in forcing crucial services offline. Nowadays DDoS attacks have engulfed some of the largest websites in the world, including Reddit, Twitter and Netflix.
Studies show that most DDoS attacks last between 6-24 hours and can cause an estimated $40,000 per hour, according to data from Imperva, a DDoS prevention firm.
By increasing an extra bandwidth, creating a DDoS response plan in the event of an attack or using DDoS mitigation services are one of the few steps that can help to reduce the impact of the attack.
Malware means any software which gets installed on a machine to perform unwanted tasks for the benefit of a third party. Ransomware is one of the types of malware. Businesses are suggested to invest a healthy amount in anti-virus technology or endpoint protection. In addition to that OS, firewalls and firmware must be hardened and updated with vendor-provided patches timely.
6. SQL Injection:
Nowadays, almost all the business relies on a website to operate and many businesses depend entirely on the services they provide online. Although, poorly secured websites might end up opening data theft for cybercriminals. SQL injection refers to vulnerabilities that allow cybercriminals to steal to temper with the data inserted in the database behind a web application or an e-commerce website. It can be achieved by sending malicious SQL commands to the database server, typically by inputting code into forms – like login or registration pages.
It will take a few well-calculated and well-planned steps to protect against SQL Injection. As a precautionary measure, businesses should assume all user-submitted data is malicious. And consider using a web application firewall.
7. IoT Devices:
As more SMBs are allowing BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), corporate networks have become more vulnerable from unsecured devices carrying malicious applications which could bypass security and access the network from within the company. The threat will easily be mitigated when there is a comprehensive BYOD policy – that educates employees on device expectations and allows companies to monitor email and documents in a better way.
To reduce cyber risks, SMBs should develop a strategy to improve its cyber security models. It includes appropriate cyber security training for the employees, insurance policies that coves loss of business stemming from an attack and a crisis communication plan.
SMBs must take steps to protect the data, devices, and people will security measures which create a strong defense. The advantages include reduced administrative time, the lesser cost to avoid expensive recovery, business continuity and improved customer services.
A layered approach would be the better way to tackle a proactive security strategy. By waving in security layers of antivirus, firewall and other services, SMBs can ensure strong protection and a continual defense if one layer is compromised during the attack.