According to JP Morgan Chase, small businesses represent a significant number of organizations in the U.S. economy—a whopping 99 percent or 28 million firms.
In addition to small businesses’ significance as part of the national economy, they are also extremely common in their presence within individual communities. They represent more than half of all employers in each state across the country, BLS data shows.
“Small” does not necessarily equate to “simple,” however. Today, small business owners run increasingly complex operations daily, from software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications and cloud computing solutions for office productivity needs to mobile commerce platforms for accepting payments anywhere at any time.
These make them vulnerable to cyberattacks. Worse, a growing number of security breaches have been hitting these enterprises. About 40 percent experience it annually. Solutions like Servicenow secops (security operations) ensure that these firms can detect attacks before they get worse.
Understanding why this happens on small teams, though, can also greatly help in planning cybersecurity:
1. Security Is More Complex than Ever
Whether we’re talking about protecting online financial accounts or corporate data stored in the cloud, it’s estimated that there are more than 10 million security products worldwide to choose from. Factor in industry compliance rules like Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX), HIPAA, PCI DSS, and others, plus any state laws that may apply to your business, and it quickly becomes apparent that securing a small business can be incredibly complex.
In addition to the complicated maze of industry compliance rules, small businesses use a wide array of third-party technology solutions. In most cases, they purchase simple solutions for specific problems, such as an email encryption solution or an online backup service, without realizing that these tools may not play well with others. The result is often some level of technical debt across the organization.
Add multiple devices and users into the mix, and you have yourself a full-blown security nightmare: a Sisyphean task where any improvement in one area results in less-than-optimal protection elsewhere.
2. Small Businesses Are Attractive Targets
Cybercriminals attack systems for a variety of reasons. Some are plain revenge, while others are about stealing vital information. Many go where the money is, which small businesses have.
According to Trend Micro, over 90 percent of cyberattacks begin with a spear-phishing email designed to trick individuals into clicking on a link or opening an attachment that will download malware onto their computer. Similar tactics can be used against entire organizations by hacking low-level employees who have access to sensitive information like passwords, bank accounts, and Social Security numbers.
The key to a successful cyberattack is patience and persistence. Once inside, hackers will exploit an organization’s data until they find something of value, whether customer credit card numbers, proprietary source code, or plans for the next hot tech gadget. With this information in hand, attackers can sell it to the highest bidder, usually on the dark web.
In other words, don’t think you’re too small or insignificant to get hacked. The odds are not in your favor.
3. Many Small Enterprises Don’t Understand the Importance of Cybersecurity
Because small companies typically don’t have dedicated IT staff or in-house tech support, they’re often left out in the digital cold when it comes to getting help quickly if something goes wrong. This could be due to a lack of human resources in general. Still, it’s also likely due to a lack of understanding about how important technical support is concerning business continuity.
Data now show that over 75 percent of small businesses report not having a formal incident response plan in place. Without this contingency or without the knowledge to create one, small companies are more likely to become victims of cybercriminals.
From this, many lack adequate security software on their systems. Most popular cloud storage apps used by small businesses were recently found to be seriously lacking in protecting private data. Moreover, cybercrooks know they don’t always have the funds or expertise needed to recover quickly if something does happen.
And when “something” happens with no plan in place for recovery? That’s when business really gets slowed down, and customers start looking elsewhere.
Installing security software on the devices your small business uses is an important first step in protecting data, but it’s not enough.
To help small businesses, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) provides a cybersecurity checklist to assess your current state. It includes questions about third-party vendors and employees who have access to sensitive information.
To keep up with cybercrime trends in the digital world, though, you must stay informed on what’s happening in this space. Begin by knowing what makes you vulnerable.