When we think about a hack, we think about large conglomerates with thousands of employees and global consumer bases. But that is just a way of thinking that has a very little link with reality. Small and mid-size businesses are at no less risk of being hacked or attacked than large conglomerates. In this post, we will discuss why small businesses need cybersecurity, and what they can do to build secure practices. We will also share some cybersecurity best practices for small businesses.
What is cybersecurity?
You probably have a pretty good idea about cybersecurity but we will quickly brush up your knowledge and shed light on certain aspects of cybersecurity that are not so heavily talked about.
Cybersecurity is the combination of offensive and defensive measures put in place in order to thwart attackers who might try to gain unauthorized access to or steal data from computer systems. Simply put, cybersecurity is the countermeasure to cyberattacks.
What is a cyberattack?
Anyone who has seen a single episode of Mr. Robot has a pretty good idea of what a cyberattack is. It is when a hacker uses malicious code to attack a system with the goal to gain access to it or steal from it. We come across a wide range of cyberattacks starting from brute-force attacks to bypass passwords, denial of service attacks, distributed denial of service attacks (DDoS), injection attacks, ransomware infections, and whatnot.
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Why are small businesses at risk?
If we just follow the process used by hackers we’ll understand why small businesses are at risk. While a very small portion of attackers work with layered purposes and target specific companies with tailor-made strategies, most hackers use a form of mass attack where they can launch an attack on any website or application that appears on their radars. It’s pretty much like fishing with a net where you cast the net and just hope to catch a whole bunch of fish. In that situation, it doesn’t matter whether you run a small or a large business, the risk is on.
How does a mass attack take place?
It’s rather simple actually. The attackers deploy automated vulnerability scanners which probe into hundreds of websites looking for a certain type of vulnerability be it a little misconfiguration or a major gap in the input validation process. Once the vulnerable websites are spotted, the hacker can use specific strategies to launch an attack and cause harm to the business.
How can a cyberattack disrupt a small business?
We can understand this by talking about a few specific kinds of attacks. Let’s start with a DDoS attack. DDoS stands for distributed denial of service where the attacker uses an army of malicious bots to send traffic to your server, so much so that the server overflows and the intended users cannot use the website. A DDoS attack can last for hours, days, or weeks depending on how prepared you are to counter the attack or how keen you are to meet the attackers’ demands.
The next case would be that of a data breach where the attackers find a way to access sensitive data stored in your database. They can steal, delete, corrupt, encrypt, or sell this data. There can be login information, passwords, credit card details, and other forms of personally identifiable information.
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The effect of cyberattacks
Now, the question is what happens to a small business that falls prey to such an attack?
- Google blacklists you and warns people against opening your website. You can’t think of a worse way of losing your reputation.
- Your hard-earned customers fail to use your website and take their business elsewhere.
- In the event of a data breach, you can be severely penalized.
- You may have to spend a spectacular amount of money on ransomware to save your site.
Studies show that 60% of small and mid-size businesses that suffer a major cyberattack or data breach do not survive.
5 cybersecurity best practices for small business
- It’s important to raise awareness among employees about cybersecurity.
- Regular vulnerability assessments are recommended to ensure there are no vulnerabilities hidden in your systems.
- You can opt for third-party security services to have your attack surfaces under vigilance.
- Promote safe coding practices to reduce the possibilities of a hack.
- Ensure compliance with relevant security standards.