Why Small Businesses Are More Prone to Cyber Attacks

Posted by Tech Support on September 14, 2017


Big businesses have so much capital for the taking that to many, it seems that targeting small businesses wouldn’t be as lucrative of a venture. According to Symantec, since right around 2012, that statement has increasingly become false. Hackers are attacking small businesses at an alarming rate.

When your company’s network is slowed or shut down by hackers, maintaining productivity becomes impossible. Employees are unable to access their files or print needed documents. For small businesses with less staff to manage everything, time spent away from production is even more critical. Here’s why small businesses are more likely to be targeted.

RELATED: Cyber Security Solutions: Best Practices for Small Business

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Outdated Mindsets Persist
Smaller Company? Smaller Security Budget
Hackers Kick You While You're Down
Bigger Customers, Bigger Problems
The Irony of the Tech-Savvy Small Business
The Light at the End of the Tunnel

Outdated Mindsets Persist

Old habits die hard. The same goes for outdated thinking surrounding cyber-attacks. Smaller companies are continually stuck in the mindset of “Hackers won’t target me when there’s more money to be made in attacking large businesses!” According to a study by the National Cyber Security Alliance, 77% of small businesses agree.

In a base way, this ideology makes sense. Why go for the salad when you can have the all-you-can-eat buffet? However, current data doesn’t back it up. When small businesses continue to assume they won’t be victims of cyber-attacks, they set themselves up for loss.

This mindset sets companies up to be reactive, not proactive, about protecting their assets. The best way to deal with cyber-attacks is to face the threats head on by being proactive about managing your network's security.

Smaller Company? Smaller Security Budget.

Since smaller companies have a tighter bottom line to maintain, many simply cannot afford to allocate much money, if any, to online security software, let alone an internal or external IT team. This leaves them at a disadvantage when hackers come knocking.

Big businesses can afford entire internal IT teams who tirelessly fight to protect their IT infrastructure. Though these bigger businesses can be a more lucrative venture for hackers, hacking smaller businesses with less security can be like shooting fish in a barrel.

READ: Cyber Security Solutions: Best Practices for Small Business

Hackers Kick You While You’re Down

In the event that a small business is a victim of a cyber-attack, many don’t have the money or resources to fight back. Because of tighter bottom lines, small businesses cannot afford to hire IT experts to quickly resolve issues or pay lawyers to get involved. Hackers know this, which is why they are increasingly targeting smaller businesses.

By this reasoning, small businesses can especially fall victim to ransomware attacks. Ransomware attacks involve hackers holding a victim’s valuable documents for ransom. Since hackers know that many small businesses would not be able to afford paying for IT support, they will make the ransom just low enough that the idea of paying the ransom becomes more desirable than paying to alleviate the hack.

The problem with paying a ransom is that the hackers might not leave you alone forever afterwards. Once they know that you're willing to pay once, they might un-encrypt your files but leave the ransomware hiding on your computer so that down the road they can attack you again and demand more money. Hackers purposely tailor the ransom amount to what they know you will pay to avoid data loss. 

Bigger Customers, Bigger Problems

Hackers know that smaller businesses typically don’t have the robust security systems that Fortune500's have. This is why, when a hacker finds a small business that has a Fortune500 customer, they’ll hack them to gain valuable information about the Fortune500 company.

Then, the hackers will use this data as a “back door entrance” to hacking the larger companies. If you are a small business with any customers that are Fortune500 companies, or even just larger companies, you shouldn’t leave yourself as a sitting duck to hackers.

The Irony of the Tech-Savvy Small Business

As the business world increasingly moves online, some small businesses, especially newer ones, increasingly move their assets and production methods online as well. This mentality makes sense, as it can make production and management of your business smoother and more efficient.

Additionally, as consumers are moving away from shopping at brick-and-mortar stores in favor of the Internet, small businesses are flocking online to be where their customers are. However, there is a dark side to this trend.

Moving many of your business functions to an online, cloud-based system leaves you open to remote attacks by hackers. In some ways, more technology-averse businesses can seem harder to hack online than cloud-based businesses. This is because if little to none of these companies’ assets are online, then how can the hackers reach them?

Compare this thinking to how some people from past generations lived by the mentality of keeping cash under their mattress versus in a bank. Though the cash could be stolen by someone who physically breaks into the house, it couldn’t be stolen by someone trying to hack into a bank online.

However, hackers are smart enough to find ways to reach businesses even if their business doesn't function predominantly online. Hackers sometimes use social engineering tactics to trick employees into taking actions such as clicking on links that download viruses through phishing campaigns. Social engineering is a way of leveraging human behavior to break into a network instead of hacking the system directly.

While we aren’t saying that keeping your business entirely offline is safer, we’re acknowledging that if your company is moving online to where cyber-hackers can reach you, you really need to ensure your business’ safety by having a host of preventative security measures in place (including training employees to be vigilant if you are a business).

READ: What is Phishing and How are Hackers Using It?

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

Leaving your data open to being taken by hackers can have costly implications for your company. Whether it’s lawsuits from victims whose privacy was breached in a hack, money spent repairing your security system, or fines for not maintaining legal regulations on cyber security, the potential costs of a cyber-attack add up fast.

However, there are ways to protect your company. For instance, if you have fire wall protocols in place, make sure that they are up to date and running efficiently. Another way to protect your business, especially if your business is small and has no internal IT staff, is with managed IT services. 

Managed IT services are third party companies that monitor your network and proactively seek out security threats while keeping your sensitive information safe. The idea of protecting your data can be overwhelming and difficult to keep up with. Letting third party companies protect your data by employing preventative security measures takes stress away, allowing you to focus on business-critical tasks.

READ: How Much Do Managed IT Services Cost?


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