Cybersecurity Risks for Small to Mid-Sized Businesses

Is your small or mid-sized business (SMB) secure? Have you protected your data from cyber attacks like ransomware?

You may think you’ve taken the necessary precautions. Manta, an online business resource, released a 2017 poll indicating that 87% of SMB owners considered their data protected from an attack or breach. Yet, 81% of all breaches happen to SMBs.

This is in large part because protection requires more than antivirus software and an outdated firewall. At M3 Networks, we’ve compiled the risks of not sufficiently protecting your data and outlined the steps you can take to help prevent cyber attacks.

What Are the Risks?

The 2017 State of Cybersecurity in SMBs report revealed that 61% of their 600 respondents had faced cyber attacks in the past 12 months, with 54% of the group having experienced a data breach.

This resulted in companies spending an average of $1,027,053 to repair the damage. Meanwhile, disruption to their standard operations as a result of the attack or breach cost SMBs an average of $1,207,965.

These sums are far from insignificant. As such, it’s essential for SMBs to have both the resources and the teams in place to protect themselves from cyber attacks such as ransomware.

What Is Ransomware?

Ransomware is a form of malware that overtakes company devices by encrypting data on infected systems. A common threat to SMBs, it involves limiting company access to data until the ransom is paid.

Some SMBs pay extreme sums to retrieve their data. Ransomware victims doled out more than $200 million to their attackers in 2017 alone. Collectively, these attacks also cost small businesses more than $75 billion in downtime. But 97% of these breaches could have been prevented with current technologies.

What Can SMBs Do to Prevent Ransomware Attacks?

Our team put together a list of precautionary measures designed to help SMBs become less vulnerable to ransomware attacks. Small and mid-sized businesses ought to consider the following preventative strategies:

  • Train Your Users
    It’s crucial that you emphasize the importance of cybersecurity at your SMB, train your users, and keep them up-to-date on the latest technologies and procedures. Consider teaching your team about data security, email attacks, and your own policies so that everyone is well-informed and on the same page.
  • Back Up Your Data
    We cannot emphasize enough how important it is to back up your data on a regular basis. While breaches and cyber attacks are alarming under any circumstances, you wouldn’t want to find you’ve completely lost access to your files. Accordingly, be sure to back up your data on a regular basis—locally, offsite, and to the cloud.
  • Prioritize Encryption
    Make encryption a priority at your SMB. Encrypt files at rest and in motion whenever possible—especially with email and mobile devices. Consider using full-disk encryption tools, but be aware that they only activate when a login is not in use. You can address this by setting your devices to log out automatically after 10 minutes of inactivity.
  • Use a Firewall
    Firewalls are designed to create a barrier between trusted and untrusted networks. Make sure your IT team has turned on Intrusion Detection and Prevention features to keep cyberattackers at bay, and note that the log files should be forwarded to a managed SIEM (security information and event management) service for further protection.
  • Limit User Access Rights
    Don’t underestimate the power of passwords when it comes to cybersecurity. Make a point of limiting user access rights and applying other security policies on your network. For instance, you can deny or limit user storage access, or incorporate password strength requirements to keep malicious third parties at bay.
  • Secure Your Email
  • Did you know that most cyber attacks originate in your email? Ransomware attacks in particular often begin as malicious email attachments or links. As such, SMBs should pay close attention to the spam emails they receive, and use a service designed to reduce or filter spam. The key here is to limit your team’s exposure to malware.
  • Update Your Devices
    Frequent updates to Microsoft, Adobe, and JAVA products offer better security and enhanced functionality. It may seem like a hassle, but SMBs shouldn’t overlook the importance of protecting their devices with the most current technologies and applications. You can even schedule automatic updates to make the process easier.

Ultimately, when it comes to protecting company data, SMBs shouldn’t hesitate to explore their advanced security options. If you don’t know where to start, be proactive and take advantage of M3 Networks’ free, limited-time network security assessment today.