Posted: 26 Aug 2020 Contributor: Hannah OBrien
Cybersecurity Guide: Defence Against Cyber Risk on SMBs Due to COVID-19
The internet is prone to information theft and hacking. The danger this brings is emphasized by the fact that 43% of small and medium-sized businesses are not protecting their online platforms with efficient cybersecurity measures. SMBs choosing not to prioritize this, in turn, makes them one of the biggest targets towards cyber attacks, both now and moving into the future.
Over 60% of these businesses believe they are not at risk of attack despite not having any form of security over their sites. Due to this naivety, many SMBs have been hit hard in response to a cyber-attack with over 40% stating that they have lost crucial data while another 25% confirm they have lost business as a result.
Now, with the effects of COVID-19 as well as increased internet usage globally, SMBs are at a greater risk and need to reconsider the need for improved cybersecurity practices. In this article, businesses can learn from data-proven scenarios of the cyber risk on SMBs due to COVID-19, as well as gain knowledge of the new security trends companies are taking to secure their own sites’ safety.
Cyber Attacks on SMBs
Essentially, a cyber attack is a criminal assault against online sites performed by someone who may attempt to or successfully breach information and data, disable a computer, or hack a site. SMBs or companies with low, if not any form of cybersecurity are more at risk to these attacks because of the readiness the site offers to attackers in comparison to larger companies that have tech employees and large budgets to handle and maintain this level of protection.
Pandemic precautions are now forcing employees to work from home with greater regularity, with 91% of SMBs reported more attempted and successful cyber attacks than ever before. The reason for the increase in attacks is because of the fact that employees subject to remote work are using their personal devices to complete tasks without the security of an office computer. Also, with employees generally unaware of security regulations on their devices, unintentional risks could occur along with inadequate security that meets corporate standards. In response to this, businesses need to be aware that any potential cyber attack could permanently take down their site.
Combatting against Cyber Attack
SMBs at risk of cyber attack during COVID-19 need to react swiftly to protect themselves before irreparable damage is done to their sites. Even when cybersecurity in digital marketing is in place, 7 out of 10 businesses across different industries stated they would not be prepared if a cyberattack were to happen. Along with cyber hygiene, which will be discussed later in this post, SMBs need to consider these factors when looking to combat against cyber threats:
Outsource Security: A smart way of handling cyber attacks and prevention is for SMBs to hire an outsourced company or service that will work on protecting your business’s information, data, and site. By hiring external figures to deal with security, it’s more cost-efficient when compared to a business employing a whole team dedicated to handling tech issues, as well as 51% of SMBs reporting that attacks are handled more quickly using this form of service.
Responsible Leader: SMBs choosing or hiring an official leader to oversee and manage tech and security issues is a great way for businesses to keep on top of all potential cyber threats. The sole attention to this one key subject is important to keep businesses with little security safe and quickly be alerted if anything seems suspicious.
Tests & Reviews: It’s important for SMBs to frequently run tests and reviews on the security of their business site. By running tests, businesses can see any weak links in their security before any actual attack ever happens.
Cyber Hygiene for SMBs
Maintaining cyber hygiene for SMBs is a necessity for protecting your own business against potential cyberattacks. By actively working on these five essential points of cyber hygiene, your company can sustain effective security against risks during COVID-19:
1. Update Your Software: Staying on top of security software updates is an easy way to keep an SMB safe against potential threats. Although many people are prone to ignore or skip over system updates, neglecting these alerts can lead to cyberattacks slipping through the cracks.
2. Strong Passwords: Encouraging employees to use strong passwords with multiple authentications will help create a sturdy defense against potential attacks. Semi-frequent password updates will also be important for SMBs, as well as advising employees to not have the same password for all accounts used.
3. Cybersecurity Policies: Just like having company-wide policies, it’s wise for SMBs to have documented cybersecurity policies. Businesses having these policies will help employees remember to change passwords, keep company information safe, and back-up their computers.
4. Educate Employees: Businesses should work on keeping all employees informed and educated regarding the cyber risk on SMBs due to COVID-19. This is a crucial time to keep everyone aware of the risks and work as a team to keep all data and non-discretional information safe from a breach.
5. Reduce Data Sharing: SMBs should advise employees not to send passwords through email as it is an easy way for a cyber attacker to quickly access information. Employees should also be aware of the risks social platforms create for businesses’ data as these places may gather the information that is considered confidential to a company.
Cyber hygiene is ultimately the most cost-effective method of maintaining site protection; but combined with software and leadership work this approach will create a sturdy defense for SMBs.
Overall, it’s important for SMBs to prioritize cybersecurity, especially during the pandemic when employees are most likely working from home. It only takes one cyberattack to lead to a massive data theft or to completely disable a platform, all of which can do considerable damage to a businesses’ site. However, as long as SMBs maintain good cyber hygiene, stay on top of software updates, educate employees, and keep an eye on suspicious activity, companies will be in a good place to guard against any potential threats.