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Are Businesses Becoming Increasingly at Risk for Cyberattacks?

Large enterprises are often targets for cybercriminals, but that doesn’t mean smaller businesses are safe. Cyberattacks on smaller companies have increased significantly in the last couple of years.

Why? Smaller businesses are often not too concerned about cybersecurity because they don’t think cybercriminals would be interested in them. It couldn’t be further from the truth because hackers see small companies as easy prey.

Is there anything you could do about it?

Absolutely! We’ll cover why hackers attack businesses and talk about how to prevent cyberattacks before they happen.

Reasons Behind Cyberattacks

There are several main reasons why cyberattacks happen to businesses of all sizes, so let’s talk about the motivation behind these actions:

Financial gain

According to Verizon’s Data Breach Investigations Report for 2023, 95% of cybercriminals are motivated by financial gain. Hackers want to get their hands on customer information, personal information, business information, and more.

That’s where ransomware comes into the picture. It’s one of the most widespread attacks hackers use for financial gain.

While ransomware is popular in cyberattacks on large companies, it is also often seen with small businesses. This shift happened because cybercriminals don’t want publicity. Media attention could lead to an arrest or failure to collect the ransom. They rely on small companies to deliver the funds and do it quietly.

Cyber espionage

As the name suggests, cyber espionage is an attack on a business or even the government of a country to collect data and information valuable to their competitors or opposition. Cyber spies are after confidential data, marketing strategies, and intellectual property that could give them an advantage over their rivals.

Recognition

Finally, there is fame that comes with gaining access to specific systems or networks, especially among other hackers. The individuals who are after recognition could be a part of a larger hacking group or work alone. Cybercriminals enjoy challenges and often encourage each other to tackle large targets with robust cybersecurity measures just to see if they can find a way inside.

How to prevent cyberattacks

CNBC reported that 42% of small businesses have no response plan for a cyberattack. Therefore, it is better to start preparing sooner rather than later. Here’s what to do:

Educate your employees

Regardless of the size of your business, your employees need to have the proper cybersecurity education. Talk to them about cybersecurity risks and help your staff understand what can harm your business. When they get familiar with online threats such as phishing, employees will know what to look for in an email and how to recognize a potential cyberattack.

When it comes to phishing, cybercriminals rely on human error, so employees need to learn how to recognize an unsafe link. These can be sent via email and messages on social media platforms. Malvertising is yet another popular way of spreading malware. Hackers might try to infect ads seen on various websites and spread malware to unsuspecting users.

But this kind of attack can be avoided with the use of a solution like an ad blocker. Most users already have an ad blocker on their browser of choice, but it is good to double-check, especially on a work computer. An ad blocker is a simple tool that can be crucial in stopping malware.

Have a response plan

Even if your business hasn’t experienced a cyberattack before, having a response plan is recommended. For instance, personnel should know how to act if the company is dealing with ransomware or malware. Identifying the source is critical, but stopping the infection should be at the top of the list after discovering the cyberattack. It is just one example that should be a part of your response plan.

Update the software

Regular software updates are essential for ensuring your business is safe from cyberattacks. Outdated software and operating systems could be the gateway to cyber criminals always searching for new ways to spread malware.

The perfect example is the now infamous WannaCry ransomware attack from May 2017 that was spread through an error in an outdated Windows operating system. It managed to infect more than 200,000 computers around the globe.

Therefore, using unsupported software or avoiding regular updates is dangerous. Make sure you are running the latest versions of software and operating systems, especially on the devices you use to connect to your company’s network.