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Cyber Security

A common misconception among business owners is that big businesses are more commonly targeted by cyber attacks. This article explains why this is not the case and how cyber security is key to protecting small companies from digital threats.  

If you are the owner of an SME, you would be forgiven for believing that it’s unlikely your company will be targeted in a cyber attack. Media attention certainly suggests that larger companies are far more commonly targeted and face more cyber security threats than other business enterprises. However, the reality is remarkably different. According to the latest research, it’s far more likely for a small business to face down a cyber security issue.   

SMEs also face unique difficulties from cyber security threats. For instance, 58% of consumers claim they would not continue to support a business if an attack occurred. Once SME’s are targeted, the trust is greatly diminished and that’s not the only problem facing these companies.  

New regulations such as the GDPR have brought in large fines for businesses found not to have the right strategy and information security in place to protect them from these types of cyber security threats. While a larger business would likely be able to recover from a fine like this, a smaller business would struggle to cover the cost.  

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Why Are SME’s More Vulnerable? 

SME’s are often seen as an easy target compared to large businesses. Hacking into a smaller company is typically viewed as having a lower level of risk with massive potential rewards. Indeed, one study found that 75% of SME’s were targeted by phishing attacks. Phishing attacks are a method used to gain key information such as internet security details as well as passwords and personal information.  

Ultimately, these are often possible due to a lack of awareness of these digital threats. A small-medium enterprise / business will often not have the knowledge of IT cyber security to avoid these types of methods and deal with them effectively.  

Phishing can be a gateway to both malware and ransomware. Another study suggests that ransomware is the end result in 97% of phishing cases 

It’s also important to note that SME’s are more firmly rooted in the online world, far more so than larger businesses. SME’s tend to focus the majority of their business on online interactions. Larger businesses typically will have a firm off-line presence. However, while SMEs are more intertwined with the online world, they tend to lack the resources to protect themselves effectively. They are left unguarded and in many cases do not have the latest security measures in place to prevent a hack.  

What Problems Need To Be Addressed? 

SMEs are targeted because they are often easier to penetrate directly using methods such as phishing. One of the reasons for this is that they don’t have a dedicated information technology team. As such, there can be massive gaps in information security. Instead, IT cyber security responsibilities are often passed to other employees who lack the skills, knowledge and experience to complete this role effectively.  

Without the right bespoke cyber-security strategy in place, SME’s are always going to be vulnerable to various different types of cyber attacks.  

Don’t forget, it’s not your business that hackers are ultimately targeting. They are far more interested in accessing the personal info of your clients and this is what causes a catastrophic breach of trust.  

How Can SME’s Secure Their Business? 

One of the best ways to ensure that an SME is protected from a cyber threat will be to hire the right professional. A chief security expert will deliver a long term vision and strategy to ensure that key holes in data security are addressed.  

Training is also recommended to ensure that a business can be made more secure. As already noted, part of the issue here is a simple lack of awareness in terms of both the threats and the right methods for effective internet security. With further training, employees can be taught how to recognize the different phishing methods that are used by a professional hacking team. This can help avoid countless issues with sensitive data being accessed by the wrong people.  

There are now innovative ways and methods to protect small businesses. However, this will require the right level of technical expertise. This is why hiring a professional will always be essential to complete key decision-making tasks regarding security.  

If you can not afford to hire an IT security team to deal with digital threats, you should at least update your own security software. Many people assume that antivirus software is not particularly helpful. However, hackers do use basic forms of malware that can be quickly dealt with using the right anti-virus program. As such, it is worth your time to keep this up to date on your systems.  

You also need to ensure that you are not making any simple mistakes. For instance, passwords should never be connected to personal details. They should be completely random and you should know exactly who in your business has the information needed access sensitive files.  

What Should An SME Owner Do In The Event Of A Data Breach? 

If there is a data breach in your business, the temptation will be to sweep it under the rug or ignore it. Unfortunately, digital threats never remain hidden for long and attacks that impact customers or clients will always be traced back to a business. As such, you should be open and transparent about the incident. At the same time, you must work to tackle this security challenge head on and ensure that it is dealt with as efficiently as possible.  

Cyber-security threats are only going to become more prevalent in the future and the impact of a hack could have serious consequences for the typical SME. With a bespoke cyber security strategy, it is possible to protect the interests of a company and ensure that a brand breaking hack can be stopped before it’s even begun.

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