Small Business Financial Article
Rich Best has spent 28 years in the financial services industry, as an advisor, a managing partner, directors of training and marketing, and now as a consultant to the industry. Rich has written extensively on a broad range of personal finance topics and is published on several top financial sites. Recent books include The American Family Survival Bible and Annuity Facts Revealed: What You MUST Know Before You Invest.

The Biggest Security Risk for Small Businesses

The Biggest Security Risk for Small Businesses

Since the 2017 WannaCry ransomware attack that infected more than 230,000 computers in over 150 countries, the threat level of cybercrime has been elevated to a whole new level. We now know it can hit any organization, anywhere, and at any time. Cybercrime is up significantly in large part because of the criminals’ ability to discover and exploit security flaws, always staying one step ahead of the security technology. It is also up significantly in small- and medium-sized businesses because it is a target-rich environment. All a major criminal organization needs to do is infect 10,000 small businesses with a ransomware cryptoworm and extort $1,000 from each to haul in $10 million, and that’s just a day’s worth of work. With that kind of success, you can expect ransomware attacks to escalate.

Cybersecurity is the number one challenge for small businesses in 2017. Many businesses don’t take it seriously enough until something happens to them or to someone they know. This is the time to proactively assess your security measures and address any potential issues, because it will cost much more to clean up after a security breach.

It all About the Data

Your data is the target, whether it is to steal it or to ransom it. The more your business is networked and interconnected with the marketplace, the greater your risks. The threats can come in the form of malware or phishing, both seeking to infiltrate your on-premises software and hardware endpoints. An increasing number of businesses are migrating their data storage and applications to cloud storage solutions with much higher security and data integrity levels.

However, not all data can or should be stored in the cloud. This might include legacy applications, mission-critical workloads, and other sensitive data. So, you need to put measures in place to protect your network’s endpoint, detect threats, and respond to security breaches quickly. It’s no longer good enough to set up a firewall and walk away. Every business should bring in a third party to conduct a vulnerability assessment.

The good news is businesses don’t have to install an IT security staff. Some of the best solutions are offered by SaaS-based, third-party security services that don’t require significant investments in hardware and are easy to deploy. They provide services that can protect your entire IT stack – the server, devices, operating system, and data layers.

Your People are Your Biggest Liability

For any sized business, employees remain the most significant security risk. With employees engaging in sales and networking across social networks, new pathways into the business constantly open along with cybercriminals’ opportunities to exploit them. Phishing attacks are the most prevalent form of cyber assaults, preying on employees who lack the knowledge needed to spot them. With the more sophisticated and highly targeted spear-phishing attacks, even the most careful and knowledgeable employees are vulnerable. A spear-phishing attack targets an employee with an email masquerading as a legitimate message from someone in the business requesting sensitive information or access to a link where data is stored.

With phishing attacks up more than 800% in just one year, most businesses can expect to be on the receiving end of one or more. The most effective defense against a phishing attack or any cybersecurity threat is education to make cybersecurity top-of-mind with all your employees. Businesses that incorporate security training in their education and communications programs report a much lower incidence of successful cyber-attacks.

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