Small Business Cybersecurity: What You Need to Know

Posted on November 25, 2021

Topics: Network Security

Small Business Cybersecurity: What You Need to Know

Cybercrime has become more advanced in recent years. The worst news is that cybercriminals are increasingly targeting small and medium-sized businesses due to their weaker security systems. 

The need for small business cybersecurity is greater than ever,

According to a Verizon Data Breach Investigation Report, small businesses are target #1 for criminals and represented 43 percent of all data breaches ⁠- often because their false sense of security leads them to not put proper defenses in place.

The report says that it’s “like a homeowner leaving doors unlocked and open because he figures the criminals will go to the wealthier homes up the hill. What criminals do, though, is first go to the unguarded ‘homes’ at the bottom of the hill to steal stuff.”

Cybersecurity glossary of Terms Every Small Business Should Know.

Small businesses have valuable information, such as credit card numbers, email addresses and insurance details, that are enticing to cybercriminals. What’s even more enticing, is that most of these smaller organizations don’t invest the appropriate amount of resources into securing their systems. 

That’s why we’ve created this blog, that provides you with everything you need to know about small business cybersecurity - from what it is, why it’s important and how you can enhance your existing cybersecurity measures.

We hope this blog helps your business to better protect its data from cyber attacks. 

What is small business cybersecurity?

Small business cybersecurity is the practice of protecting systems, networks and programs from cyber threats such as viruses, malware, phishing and hacks. These cyber attacks target small businesses in the aim of accessing, changing, stealing or destroying sensitive information.

By implementing effective cybersecurity measures, your small business is able to minimize the vulnerabilities within your network that leave you at risk of cyber attacks. 

Small business cybersecurity statistics: Why security is important

To give you an idea of just how important cybersecurity measures are for small businesses, here are a few key statistics:

  • The average cost of an insider-related cyber incident for small and medium-sized businesses is $7.68 million US (IBM and the Ponemon Institute). 
  • 43 percent of small to medium-sized businesses lack any type of cybersecurity defence plan (BullGuard). 
  • 63 percent of small to medium-sized businesses report experiencing a data breach in the previous 12 month (Keeper Security and the Ponemon Institute).
  • 68 percent of business leaders feel their cybersecurity risks are increasing (Accenture).  

Common cybersecurity threats for small businesses

When we think about cybersecurity, we envision a hacker sitting behind a laptop taking down one of the world’s largest corporations. While that might be true in some instances, the vast majority of cyber threats are automated attacks that specifically target small businesses.

Here are some of the most common cyber threats that your business should be aware of:

Malware: This is an umbrella term used to describe malicious software, such as a worm, trojan horse, virus, ransomware, spyware, adware or scareware. The aim is to encourage users to download a link, which then automatically downloads harmful software to their computer.

Phishing: An email tactic, in which emails appear to be from a trustworthy source with the sole aim of stealing your passwords and account information or encouraging you to download a virus. 

Social engineering: A type of cyber attack which attempts people into revealing sensitive information. This could involve anything from an automated phone call to your business, or an email that tries to convince you to unknowingly install malware on your computer. 

DDos: Denial-of-Service (DoS) is a type of cyber attack in which multiple hosts send a huge number of bogus requests with the aim of overloading a website. The sudden spike in requests overwhelms the system and takes it offline.

Hacking: A broad term used for when cyber criminals break into a website to cause harm. While this can happen for smaller businesses, viruses and malware outnumber this type of attack significantly.  

Antivirus is no longer enough on its own

Antivirus software is an important aspect of keeping your organization secure from cybercrime, but it’s not longer enough on its own. Antivirus simply won’t keep you secure from all the cyber threats to your business.

Instead, antivirus software should be a component of a much larger small business cybersecurity strategy. A cog in a very important machine. 

With that in mind, here are a few ways in which your small business can enhance its cybersecurity policies:

  • Have a plan for what to do after a security breach

Unfortunately, all small and medium-sized businesses face the risk of a data breach or cyber attack. That means it’s important to create a plan for what you’ll do if the unexpected does happen. This should include containing the breach to prevent it spreading further, assessing the damage of the breach and then building a strategy for how you will manage the fallout of the breach. 

  • Perform regular backups 

The data cybercriminals take from your company is generally typically useless to them. The problem is, it’s incredibly valuable to your business. That’s why most cyber attacks are an attempt to blackmail you before sending the information back. Backing up your data frequently will safeguard your business against that possibility. 

  • Limit access to your files and resources

Access to your business data and resources should only be given to people who need to use it for their job. Limiting access to that information is a best practice that will reduce any vulnerabilities to your company’s most important information.

  • Use trusted service providers

We live in a world where web-enabled services are free. We can store our files, run programs and send/receive emails all without spending a penny. But do you truly know what you are using? Your business should only store and send data with service providers that you truly trust and have a track record of solid security measures. 

  • Use a complete cybersecurity solution

As we mentioned before, antivirus software is no longer enough to protect your business from its owner. Instead, your organization should invest in a complete cybersecurity solution that monitors your network and recommends ways you can improve your security by limiting vulnerabilities. We partnered with Covalence to offer small businesses in Ontario a solution that offers just that. 

Are you located in Ontario, between Ottawa and the GTA, and need help enhancing your cybersecurity program? Reach out to the OT Group team today. We would love to discuss your unique requirements.


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