What Makes Businesses a Target for Cybercrime?

Cybercrime is on the rise. The WannaCry ransomware attack, the Equifax breach, and many other cyber attacks on small businesses make headline news and put personal and financial data at risk. In fact, cybercrime is so prevalent that it cost global businesses close to $600 billion last year alone—that’s nearly 1% of global GDP.

So why is it that cyber criminals love to target small and medium-sized businesses? Here, we’ll examine the impact of cybercrime on business and some of the reasons cyber criminals target businesses and the conditions that allow them to do so.

Unsecured Devices

One of the most prominent ways cyber criminals attack small businesses is through unsecured devices. Many small and medium-sized businesses (SMB) believe they are too small to target and don’t put proper security protocols in place. Many companies allow employees to surf the web on company computers and don’t have proper firewalls in place.

What’s more, many businesses allow employees to use their own devices to access company networks in order to cut costs and improve efficiency.

When employees access company networks on their own personal, unsecured devices—smartphones, laptops, tablets, and home computers, hackers and data thieves only need to access these devices to make their way onto your network.

Unsecured devices make it easy for criminals to carry out cyber attacks on small businesses.

Value of Personal Data

Cybercrime isn’t just theft of personal data, it’s using it fraudulently. Small businesses are treasure troves of personal customer data. Many small businesses maintain identifying data that includes names, addresses, phone numbers, spousal and family information, and financial information.

Personal data can be used for identity theft and fraud. Cyber criminals can use this information to open bank accounts, credit cards, and more. Because personal data is so valuable, and SMBs have a lot of it, it makes them a target.

Inadequate Employee Training

Another key reason cyber criminals carry out targeted cyber attacks on small businesses is the lack of employee training often found at SMBs. Employees are often the biggest threat to the security of your company—that’s due to inadequate employee training in best practices. Phishing and other tactics of cyber criminals often appear like legitimate messages. When employees inadvertently download malicious malware, they might not even know it.

What’s more, online browsing can be incredibly dangerous for your organization’s security. Many hackers and cyber criminals use online polls and other seemingly innocuous activities as trojan horses to infiltrate and access your network.

While killing a little time on a break with some online shopping or browsing social media may seem harmless to your employees, it can actually put your entire organization at risk. Ensure you have adequate employee training so your staff understands the risks associated with browsing and downloading non-essential items.

Apathy and Denial

One of the leading causes of cyber attacks on SMBs is the apathy and denial of danger from businesses. Many SMBs feel they are too small or insignificant to warrant attacks. This laissez-faire attitude simply puts businesses at greater risk.

 According to a recent survey by internet security firm Symantec, three in five small businesses don’t use antivirus technology on their computers. What’s worse, is that 40% of targeted attacks are directed to SMBs.

It’s clear why cyber criminals love to target small businesses—it’s because they don’t think of themselves as potential targets so they don’t put proper security protocols in place. That effectively makes them easy targets.

Lack of Security

One of the main reasons cyber criminals love to target cyber attacks on small businesses is the lack of security. Many SMBs simply don’t have the resources to maintain up to date security protocols.

Many small businesses feel they can’t afford to protect their data and networks. However, the cost of data theft or a breach is far more than the cost of utilizing anti-virus software and putting basic security protocols in place.

A single hack can cost a small company up to $250,000. Because the impact of cybercrime on business can be so substantial, it only makes sense to invest a fraction of that amount into security measures.

Legacy Software

You should notice a trend developing. Cybercriminals love to target SMBs because they make easier targets. They often have fewer security measures, allow unsecured devices to access their network, and have minimal employee training. Additionally, the reliance of SMBs on legacy software it makes them an even easy target.

Legacy software requires constant updates and patching, is more vulnerable to attacks, and provides fewer security measures. While continuing to rely on legacy software can save an organization money in the short term, it can also end up costing a lot more if an attack takes place.

In fact, computers that were affected by the WannaCry ransomware attack were almost all running legacy software. Around 98% of the impacted computers were still using Windows 7.

Limited IT Resources

Large firms and big businesses have the resources to employ robust IT teams. These IT service providers can dedicate the time and energy required to maintain constant vigilance—searching through code, monitoring data streams, and identifying weaknesses before they can be exploited.

That’s rarely the case for SMBs.

SMBs are more likely to conduct their IT on shoestring budgets and make agonizing decisions on how resources are allocated. Many SMBs rely on one person to run the entire IT department. That means less attention can be paid to mitigating issues before they become problems. If your IT staff is only focused on putting out fires, they have a harder time identifying vulnerable areas.

More Opportunity, Less Security

There’s a reason cyber criminals target cyber attacks on small businesses—greater opportunity for success. SMBs often have fewer resources to invest in security and training, making them greater targets for cybercrime.

Partnering with a managed IT service provider can help your SMB secure your network and protect your assets while keeping within your IT budget. You don’t have to go it alone, NIC can help you secure your valuable data, protect your business, and manage your IT costs. Consult with NIC to learn if managed IT services are the right option to protect your business from cyber crime. Talk to an expert today.

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