What Does This New Cybersecurity Crisis Mean for Small Businesses?

Small businesses face unique challenges in various areas — cybersecurity is no exception. From knowing your risks to finding the best resources to mitigate those risks, many small businesses are having a difficult time keeping their business cyber-safe. While the internet has made the lives of business owners easier, it has also made it easy for businesses to become the victims of cyberattacks.

Cyberattacks on large businesses like pipelines, meat companies, and nuclear headlines make all the headlines on the news, but small businesses are also targets. As REvil and other groups begin turning towards more sophisticated tools into turnkey software, we anticipate that this problem will continue to become worse in the near and mid-term future. These attacks have hit the large and wealthy organizations that ostensibly have security measures in place.

What about the small businesses? What happens to businesses that do not have dedicated security and rely on mass-market tools? What can these businesses do to protect themselves?

Cybercrime after the Pandemic

The pandemic has more Canadian small businesses more vulnerable and susceptible to cyberattacks. An October survey revealed that nearly a quarter of businesses have experienced cyberattacks since March 2020.

While many small businesses adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic by transitioning to remote work and adopting new technologies, these changes have also opened the door for more cyberattacks. Due to the recent rise in cybercrime, it has become more important than ever for small businesses to protect their networks and information systems.

More than 80 percent of businesses that experienced a cyberattack revealed the attack came through email scams and phishing attempts. 50 percent of businesses revealed they experienced a cyberattack after coming across malicious software. The businesses that were at greater risk were:

  • Businesses with 20 or more employees
  • Those who allowed their employees to work from home or those who made any changes to their online presence
  • Businesses in the following sectors: manufacturing, wholesale trade, business services, and enterprise and administration management

Why Are Cyberattacks Becoming More Common?

The struggle for small businesses to remain cyber-safe can be attributed to the need for small business owners to stick to a specific budget. When there are financial restraints on a small business, this will mean small business owners will be more responsible for making critical decisions in areas they may not understand.

Cyberattacks increased greatly in 2020 alone. Not only did more people with malicious intent have more time to navigate those systems, but they also have more tools and resources at their disposal. Many people have also been working from home, and this means many of them are probably working on unsecured networks and workstations — which makes it easier to hack.

This recent cybersecurity crisis means it is no longer of ”if” your small business will be hit, but ”when”. The cost of one attack can be exponential, but when you prepare your business now, you can put your business in a better position to withstand any attack and decrease the amount of money you may have to pay to restore your data and your business’s overall functionality.

How Can Your Business Protect Itself?

President of Pure IT, Troy Drever, was recently asked to share his opinions on what the new cybersecurity crisis means for small businesses and what lessons can be learned. This is what Troy had to say:

As the threat landscape continues to evolve, businesses of all sizes – large and small – must continue to evolve their security posture and practices to defend themselves from the myriad of threats that exist today and evolve tomorrow.

One of the most important aspects of cybersecurity is education. The end user is the weakest link to a potential cyber attack. Ongoing cybersecurity training and testing is a must. This training is readily available from I.T. service companies to help businesses of all sizes to access high quality, ongoing security training for their staff.

Multi-Factor Authentication is another key defense used to protect corporate systems from hackers. This security measure is very affordable for all sizes of organizations.

With COVID-19, the work from home revolution has created a huge security risk for corporations. DNS filtering is a key system used to protect end users that are not behind the corporate firewall from ending up on the wrong website where they can easily be compromised.

Another key security measure is Managed Threat Response. It’s no longer enough to deploy anti-virus and anti-malware systems, those systems must be managed 24×7 by a Security Operations Center who are highly skilled and trained in threat hunting and remediation of threats in corporate environments. This is possible today for small organizations who cannot afford their own 24×7 security team to outsource that function to a Managed Services Provider who can provide that service for them.

Education is Key

One of the key points Troy mentioned is education. Business owners need to educate themselves and understand how vulnerable everyone is. It does not matter how much money you have invested into your cybersecurity strategy, you should never assume your small business will never be at risk. To cybercriminals, size does not matter. You should regularly test your practices and measures to ensure they will protect you in the event of an attack, regardless of how small or large the attack is.

Implement the Right Systems

Troy also mentioned the importance of having the right systems in place for your business. Multi-Factor Authentication is one of the most important tools you can use to protect your systems. After you identify your critical systems, you will need to make sure they are separated from networks that can e easily accessed. Measures can be put in place for your business to protect your systems and add another layer of security onto the network.

Managed Threat Response 

Another key security measure Troy mentioned is Managed Threat Response. Managed Threat Response involves 24/7 detection, threat hunting, and response delivered by a fully-managed Security Operations Center. Threats can be eradicated 24/7 with the detection and response services fueled by elite expertise and threat lifecycle capabilities.

If you are unsure if your network and systems are protected correctly, take a few minutes to contact us today to schedule your free IT assessment.

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