Whether it’s for data storage, or the processes involved in day to day activities, virtually every business out there uses the internet in some way to improve efficiency and reduce costs. Smaller businesses in particular benefit from the huge range of cloud-based services that help simplify processes such as accounting and customer support. However, the potential threat of a cyber attack is often overlooked, or at least hugely underestimated by those same businesses.
You might assume that cyber terrorists are too busy going after big finance companies to target a small business. However, a study of small and medium businesses conducted by Ponemon in 2016 showed that 55% of the participants had experienced a cyber attack in the last 12 months.
The reality is that cyber attacks happen to businesses of all sizes, but generally it is only the larger or better-known organisation that will get much press. This means small businesses are often less prepared for attacks and thus more vulnerable to them.
As many as 1 in 5 small businesses affected by cyber attacks have reported that the amount it took to rectify the damage was upwards of £10,000 – with 1 in 10 quoting as much as £50,000; more than enough to sink a lot of smaller businesses.
Cyber security a clear issue for small businesses
Unfortunately, the danger of cyber security attacks on small businesses is something that has only grown over the course of the past few years. More and more individuals capable of these devastating acts are finding out that small and even medium-sized businesses have a cyber security system that is simply not up to par. As a matter of fact, many small businesses don’t even have a security system to speak of – meaning that attackers can simply walk through the door and cause enough damage to possibly close the business depending on how heavily they rely on the Internet for their business.
What can the government do?
With cyber attacks on the rise, it is at least of some comfort that the government still has a means of protecting small businesses from the possibility of a cyber attack. Using websites such as Cyber Essentials and Cyber Aware will help small businesses understand not just the looming threat of such attacks but also become aware of ways to certify their cyber security system. There isn’t a complete guarantee that companies who do this will be completely immune from attacks, but it does provide a barrier so that only the more skilled cyber attackers have a chance.
The prime targets
More often than not, businesses with fully fledged departments and plenty of sensitive data are the target of most cyber attackers. However, it’s also important to note that small businesses have also been targeted and the results have always been devastating. It’s taking these businesses longer and longer to recover from such attacks, and while the prime targets are still big businesses with a lot to lose, this doesn’t change the fact that small and medium-sized companies have still had to tangle with cyber attackers from time to time.
So what exactly can be done by small businesses to protect themselves from cyber threats? For one, more research and focus on cyber security should be the primary focus. It’s also important that employees are given extensive training with regards to the use of cyber security. This ensures that novice attackers have no chance of getting lucky when it comes to targeting small businesses.