Cyber Crime is on the Rise with Many Small Businesses at Risk of Cyber Threats

With small businesses becoming more reliant on a digital landscape, products and services are more accessible to customers, but cyber threats are a growing cause for concern. Not only can understanding the world of cybercrime be difficult for those who aren’t familiar with the nuances of the internet, but it can also be costly for small to medium-sized businesses to protect themselves from it. As with any business risk, small to medium size businesses (SMBs) need to factor in the risk of a cyber-attack and do what they can to mitigate it. 

According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Report, the cost of cybercrimes was $2.7 Billion in 2020. Cybercrimes are often harder to detect but leave a long-lasting impact that can harm a small business in more ways than one. Since small businesses deal with sensitive material, but often lack the cyber security of larger organizations, they are popular targets for cyber-attacks. More often than not, small businesses are unprepared for cyber-attacks because organizational leaders don’t know the types of attacks that are possible, don’t have the resources to invest in a cyber security team, and are unsure of best practices to keep data safe through the entire supply chain of their business.

Impact of a Cyber Attack on SMBs

If a hacker is able to steal customer payment information or sensitive financial data through a cybercrime, not only can a SMB lose customer credibility and trust, but there can also be a huge impact on the bottom-line success of the business. In fact, according to a VIPRE SMB Security Trends Survey, 47% of CISOs and IT Directors in small businesses see data security as the biggest challenge facing their organization. If a small business falls victim to a cyber-attack, the money needed to recover from that attack can often jeopardize the longevity of the SMB, immediately calling into question if the business can recover at all.

Coming back from a cyber-attack could very well be the last thing you do as an SMB owner; don’t let the digital landscape you work in put you in danger. With the Wisr Platform, you can rest assured knowing that you have global data monitoring and insights coming to you so you can better manage the threats your sector might face. Additionally, our tool will provide vendor risk assessments to help you identify  and prioritize potential problem areas. Third-party supplier risk is a massive danger for SMBs, so it’s important to consider third-party risk assessments in your cyber security plan.

Recognizing Cyber Threats

Even the best Chief Information Security Officers’ organizations can experience a cyber-attack. The online trends and data access capabilities are always changing, but, according to the US Small Business Administration, there are a few types of cyber threats that should always be on your radar:

Malware

Malicious software that is made to harm a computer, server, client, or computer network, malware is a term that many Chief Information Security Officers have been dealing with for decades. 

Viruses 

Viruses are programs that are built to spread from device to device within a connected network. Just like medical viruses, they can spread quickly and are effective at infecting their targets. Once infected, cybercriminals can access your network and online systems.

Ransomware

This specific type of Malware will infect your computer network and restrict access from those inside your organization until a ransom is paid. Ransomware has taken down entire governments’ abilities to function while a ransom threat looms over their head.

Phishing

Disguised emails that look like they’re coming from a reputable source can contain dangerous links or attachments that are filled with code meant to harm your device or computer network. These are especially dangerous because phishing emails can be sent to any employee, and without proper training, employees may struggle to recognize these dangerous attacks. 

Having a basic understanding of how attacks are made will help you safeguard your organization from falling victim to these attacks. Remember, you don’t have to do it alone. Cyber Security is complicated and incredibly important; let Wisr’s AI Platform assess your biggest cyber risks and recommend ways to mitigate risk and improve protection.

Protection is a Team Effort

Whether your SMB has 2 people or 200 people, every single team member needs to be trained in cyber security best practices. It only takes one person who opens a phishing email or improperly stores login credentials for your whole business to be taken to its knees. According to Verizon’s 2021 Data Breach Investigations Report, credentials are the most common type of compromised data. 

Just as creating a healthy working culture is important for business success, creating a culture of cyber security is a key factor in mitigating cyber-attacks before they happen. With a properly trained team that knows how to recognize malicious data or attack attempts, you could be, quite literally, saving your small to medium-sized business from being destroyed.

Mitigating Cyber Threats

In a Forbes article discussing how to protect small business from cyber threats, Fabi Hubschmid writes, “As cyberattacks become more frequent and targeted, SMB owners must understand the vulnerabilities of their particular business, as well as the available resources to help them prevent, identify and respond to an attack. The Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), a U.S. federal agency focused on the security, resiliency, and reliability of cybersecurity and communications infrastructure, helps SMBs develop and deploy a tailored cybersecurity program through self-assessments, best practices, and a resources road map.”

Cyber security is a strategy; it cannot be one or two actions taken with the hopes of all working out. It is a strategy that needs the best and the brightest minds to continue refining as the digital landscape changes. Regardless of what your cyber security team or resourcing looks like, a strategy is needed. Having a CISO, or Chief Security Officer is a great investment as that person is highly skilled in cyber security and can help formulate a strategy against cyber threats. However, small businesses often lack the funding to create a team around cyber security. If that’s the case, there are helpful ways to mitigate threats and continue to bolster security in cyberspace.

Expect the Worst

By preparing for the worst and being ready for a cyber-attack at all times, you’re more likely to spot suspicious activity. It’s important to set up a consistent testing mechanism for your current cyber security strategies to identify any gaps in the process flow and ensure enough response time is given. By testing your current infrastructure in different ways, you’re likely to find areas that leave you open to attacks, allowing you to increase your cyber security before a real attack.

Train Employees Properly

Don’t expect that your employees know how to keep your business safe from cyber threats. Conduct training sessions on how to identify threats they may come across, what the reporting process for those threats should be, and test their capabilities as well! Sending out test phishing emails is a great way to monitor your team’s ability to adapt as cyber threats get more sophisticated.

Be Critical of Third-Party Risk

Third-party suppliers can be a massive risk to your SMB’s cyber security. We have an in-depth article about how to protect yourself from third-party risk, but it’s critical that you don’t assume a third-party supplier has cyber security mechanisms that will protect you. They likely have access to your company’s data, so an attack on them is also an attack on you. With Wisr’s Artificial Intelligence, not only can you get clarity as to the risks you are facing within your own business, but you can get an idea of the risks posed by your suppliers. Use our software to strengthen your third-party risk assessments and develop a set of security standards for all components within your supply chain.

Analyze, Monitor, and Prioritize Cyber Risk

Cyber threats are changing and evolving every second of every day. If you encounter a cyber threat or detect an attempted attack, you need to monitor the trend of that threat as well as any cyber behavior that could be a continuation of the attempt. With sophisticated monitoring and alerts through Wisr, you’ll be notified when suspicious behavior is detected and provided information to help you prioritize the threat.

Learn from Others

Businesses of all sizes can be devastated by a cyber-attack. Don’t wait until it’s your own business before becoming more educated on the topic of cyber security. Large corporations with robust cyber security teams have faced detrimental attacks that left them unable to continue operations, or worse. There are notable attack methods you can learn from, just by reading about those who have gone through it.

JBS Ransomware Attack

In the spring of 2021, the world’s largest meat processing company, JBS was the victim of a ransomware attack that shut down operations in the US, Canada, and Australia. 

The attack was credited to the Russian cybercrime group, REvil. The plant was forced to pay a ransom of about $11 million and lost a day of operational time in affected areas.

Microsoft Cyberattack

Microsoft is a technology giant and likely has one of the most robust cyber security teams that money can buy.  However, in March of 2021, Chinese hackers found a small number of coding errors that allowed them to break into the system and steal data from over 30,000 organizations including the US Government.

These are just two examples from the Center for Strategic and International Studies that has kept a running list of all major cyberattacks since 2006. If devastating attacks can happen to organizations that have sophisticated cyber security departments in place, then these attacks can happen to anyone. 

Cyber Security is a Priority for SMBs

Invest in cyber security before it’s too late. There are many resources for small business owners to learn more about cyber security and enhance protection capabilities. Wisr is a thought leader in this industry and continues to refine technologies to keep up with the landscape of cyber threats. The investment is worth the peace of mind alone.

To learn more about how we can protect your SMB from the worst-case scenario, reach out to our team of experts here today!

References:

  1. https://wisr.ai/cyber-risk-prediction/
  2. https://www.welivesecurity.com/2021/04/07/supply-chain-attacks-when-trust-goes-wrong-try-hope/
  3. https://www.forbes.com/sites/theyec/2021/06/02/how-to-protect-your-small-business-from-cyber-threats/?sh=22a0f2b356cd
  4. https://www.sba.gov/business-guide/manage-your-business/stay-safe-cybersecurity-threats
  5. https://www.fcc.gov/general/cybersecurity-small-business
  6. https://hbr.org/2021/09/4-cybersecurity-strategies-for-small-and-midsize-businesses
  7. https://www.thesslstore.com/blog/15-small-business-cyber-security-statistics-that-you-need-to-know/
  8. https://www.vipre.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/VIPRE_2020_IG_-SMB-SECURITY-TRENDS-_0715_US-1.pdf
  9. https://www.csis.org/programs/strategic-technologies-program/significant-cyber-incidents
  10. https://www.reuters.com/technology/jbs-paid-11-mln-response-ransomware-attack-2021-06-09/
  11. https://www.npr.org/2021/08/26/1013501080/chinas-microsoft-hack-may-have-had-a-bigger-purpose-than-just-spying

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