Cyber Threats and Solutions: The Complete Guide to Cybersecurity for SMBs

When you hear the word “hacker”, you may think of someone lurking in the dark, with a mask on, behind a computer. And this is how the internet and sometimes the media depict someone who has the capacity to steal data from people.

What is not widely known, though, is that cybercrime is a kind of “business” that is expected to be valued at $6 trillion by the year 2021. It is not only composed of small-time people wearing hoodies and doing their dark trades at their parents’ basement. This is a widely organized group of individuals that has one main goal: to get your information in any way they can.

Cyber attacks can happen to anyone. They don’t discriminate whether you are a simple office worker who does 8 hours shifts 5 days a week or a big-time business conglomerate that is worth billions of dollars in assets.

Cybercrime is a mix of a lot of things. It attacks anything digital, such as company data or resources. Cybercriminals can reach far and wide and can access even the most malevolent network, The Dark Web. This is a place where different types of cybercriminals make deals and sell the different stolen data they have.

How Cybercrimes Affect Different Types of Businesses

IBM published a survey with Ponemon, a leading research center dedicated to knowing the impact of a data breach, privacy, and data protection. They have found out that this year of 2021, the costs associated with cyber-attacks and the impacts it has on all types of businesses have increased 6.4 percent, roughly around $3.86 million.

We’re talking about loads and loads of money wasted because of cybercriminals and their perseverance to steal as much as they can on vulnerable businesses.

Most small to medium-sized businesses are often owned by simple individuals or organizations that are working very hard to keep their businesses afloat, despite all the competitions they have with large-scale companies. Unfortunately, because these types of businesses are less keen to have strong security protection software in their systems, they are usually the ones that are mostly affected.

Small and medium businesses are hit where it hurts the most. And that is by using different elements of hacking and breaching by these criminals who are taking advantage of the vulnerability these companies have.

Attacks like ransomware, wherein all your details, data, and information about your company are encrypted by the cybercriminals. And unless you pay a certain amount that they demand, you will not get the key to decrypt the files. This is a sure way of disabling any company’s processes and if they pay the said amount, valuable money will forever be lost.

Also, one of the most popular types of hacking is by sending these companies legit-looking phishing emails. SMEs (small and medium enterprises) are less knowledgeable about online security. In terms of money to be gained, they are less likely to be targeted.

Criminals choose them specifically because of their vulnerability. And these emails trick employees into believing they have received a legitimate email to steal log-in credentials and gain intelligence on the target.

One may think that large-scale businesses such as shopping mall owners or electric companies are less prone to these attacks. This is because they have the financial capability to equip themselves with the latest security, not just online, but also with their personnel.

Electric companies have NERC CIP which is an extra layer of security protection. Sadly, this is not the reality. There have been significant attacks before that have been in the national news because of how large the attack affected even these big companies.

One example is what happened to Asco, an aircraft and aviation equipment-making corporation that was hit by a large-scale ransomware attack last 2019. They had to close their doors for two solid days because of the attack that happened to them. Now, this is a known corporation, but still, they were not exempted from cybercrime.

What Businesses Can Do To Prevent Cyber Crimes

Even with all the possible ways these attackers can use to gain unauthorized access to companies’ data, there is still a silver lining.

There are ways that businesses can do to at least lessen the chances of cybercriminals from succeeding in their ill intentions. And these are proven ways of creating a stronger field of security for all business types.

1. Be More Invested In Your Security

This can’t be stressed enough, but having the latest and most effective security software to shield your important files and data is something that all businesses must consider.

In fact, it should be an obligation. After all, this will assure you of 24/7 protection against possible threats from hackers that are just waiting to pounce.

2. Incorporate a Two-Factor Authentication Option

Some may find it hard to add an extra method to do when you want to access a certain account. And this is what two-factor authentication is.

It is the second level of protection wherein even after you have successfully logged in using your username and password, you will also be asked to enter a PIN or passcode. It’s usually sent through an email or on your mobile device before you can fully use the account you want to use.

It can be extra work but think of how effective this is when it comes to adding a second layer of security and preventing hackers from getting to your important files.

Even if a hacker successfully stole your password, they cannot get the PIN they need to further proceed. It will only be available to you using the email or mobile number you have enrolled for the authentication.

3. Limit the Persons That Can Access Valuable Data

When you have valuable information, for example about your company’s assets, board members’ data, financial records, or personal accounts, there will be people who are allowed to know how to access the files.

They can be the CEOs and the owners. After all, they are the ones who usually do the planning and the strategies to keep the business working. And because of the value these data have, it is important to limit the people who have the knowledge and the capability to access those files.

As much as we think about it, a mailroom employee doesn’t have the reason to know how to open the CEO’s main computer. And at the same time, the CEO doesn’t have the obligation to share his username and password with everyone in the office.

In this way, we can prevent data breach and secure important files by making it sure the log-in details are only known to those who are assigned to know them.

4. Encrypt Your Data

Data encryption is a process in which your files are translated into another form or code, that only people with the encryption key can access and read. Encrypted data is also known as ciphertext, and it greatly differs from plain text which anyone can read easily.

Currently, encryption is a very popular method of securing data that is being used by different organizations. The main purpose of this is to protect digital data even though they are stored in computer systems and are transmitted through the internet.

Conclusion

SMEs and even big companies are not safe from the wondering eyes of different cybercriminals. These people will do anything to gain access to important files so that they can steal them and sell them to those who are willing to pay a lot of money to get that sensitive information.

And they are everywhere. If you lack the knowledge on how to properly and effectively secure your company, you will fall prey to these attackers.

Invest in new technologies, learn new trends in cybersecurity, arm yourself and your employees with the proper tools and software that will keep those hackers away. We live in a digital age where almost everything is possible. Therefore, companies, no matter how small or big they are, must be able to adapt to these changes.