Entrepreneurs owning small enterprises often make the mistake of overlooking cybersecurity as a contributing factor to business expansion. Most of the time, limited resources might leave small enterprises with very little cyber protection that is no match for the evolving cyber threats. We may assume that cybercriminals are busy targeting reputed industry giants, and startups or small enterprises are not worth their effort. But statistics say otherwise.
This might be a wee bit of a shock for many. The growing number of startups and small enterprises worldwide are attracting cyber-attacks. Cybersecurity is highly essential for small enterprises for 3 reasons.
Small businesses are more vulnerable targets for cybercriminals. As they have fewer resources to invest in robust cybersecurity technologies, they are easier targets for cybercriminals. Moreover, they believe small businesses lack awareness and are hence less likely to report cyber incidents.
Most of the small enterprises cannot recover from the devastating impact. The financial losses, operational disruptions, and reputational damage caused by cyberattacks can shake the foundation of small enterprises. They might find it extremely difficult to recover from a cyberattack when compared to well-established firms, even leading to the closure of businesses.
Regulatory compliance is extremely crucial for small enterprises. If you are an entrepreneur who is serious about establishing a successful business, then complying with the cybersecurity regulations of that particular industry is crucial for uninterrupted growth or expansion. For example, if you are a financial institution in the USA, you have to comply with GLBA (Gram Leach Bliley Act), which urges the implementation of security measures to protect customer data.
Types of Cyberattacks Targeting Small Enterprises
Phishing attacks: Phishing is the most common cyberattack wherein emails or messages are designed to replicate ones from legitimate sources. They create a sense of urgency to trick you into clicking on malicious links or divulging sensitive information to use them for fraudulent activities.
Malware attacks: Malware is malicious software that can be used to steal data, damage devices, or disrupt operations. Malware can be injected into your systems through different ways – phishing, infected documents or websites, or removable devices.
Weak passwords: Weak passwords are another common way for attackers to gain access to data. Attackers can use brute-force attacks or password dictionaries to crack weak passwords.
Insider threats: Insider threats are threats that come from within the organization. Insider threats can be caused by malicious employees or employees who simply make mistakes.
Poor security practices: Poor security practices, such as leaving devices unattended or sharing passwords, can also make small enterprises vulnerable to data breaches.
Data Breach Prevention Strategies
Develop a full-fledged cybersecurity plan. Identify your organization’s assets, vulnerabilities, and threats, and outline the steps to be taken to protect them.
Have strong security controls. Firewalls, antivirus software, and Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS) play a vital role in protecting your networks and devices. Encrypt sensitive data and implement strong password policies to reduce vulnerabilities.
Educate your employees. Humans are the weakest links in the cybersecurity network. Hence, cybersecurity awareness training is mandatory to educate employees about common cyber threats and measures to avoid them.
Monitor your systems and data. Stay vigilant and look out for suspicious activities such as unusual login attempts, accessing suspicious sites, etc. Conduct audits frequently to ensure your cybersecurity measures are effective and up to date. Back up your data so that you can easily restore it when a breach occurs.
Technologies that help prevent data breaches
Firewall -Blocks malicious traffic from entering your network, such as traffic from known phishing sites or botnets.
Intrusion Detection System (IDS) – Detects suspicious activities on your network like many failed login attempts or unusual patterns of data access.
Intrusion Prevention System (IPS) – Blocks malicious traffic from entering your network, such as traffic from a known malware source.
Antivirus Software – Detects and removes viruses and other malware from your devices, such as malware spread through a phishing email attachment or removable devices.
Data Encryption – Protects sensitive data, such as customer credit card numbers and social security numbers by encrypting them i.e. changing them into a format that can only be read by someone who has the encryption key.
Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) – Offers an additional layer of security, which protects your accounts, such as your email and cloud storage accounts, from being accessed by unauthorized individuals.
Zero-Trust Security –As the name suggests, it is a framework that trusts no one. It requires continuous authentication and authorization for internal and external logins and follows the principle of least privilege access. The network is divided into small segments for effortless monitoring and control.