While it may seem counterintuitive for hackers to attack small- and mid-sized companies, it’s not just big companies who are at risk from cybercriminals. Cyberattacks on small- and medium-sized companies have been on the increase since 2004; in fact, up to 85 percent of the targets for cyber-related crimes are small- and mid-sized businesses. This high percentage represents a digital pandemic.
What’s Fueling the Increase in Attacks
Gone are the days where small- and mid-sized companies could ignore network security with little consequence. Cybercriminals now realize that these companies are an easy target, because they often don’t have the IT resources for protection and don’t invest money in cybersecurity. Another reason for the increase is that many small- and mid-sized companies lack a formal or even an informal Internet security policy for employees. And many of these companies have employees who use the Internet daily, and some depend on the Internet for daily operations. Other reasons for the uptick in cyberattacks on small- and mid-sized companies include lack of risk awareness, lack of employee training, failure to secure endpoints, and failure to keep security defenses updated. Plus, small- and mid-sized businesses are more interconnected today. Instead of just having email accounts and a website, they often have more complex networks, including cloud, mobile and interactive connections with partners and customers. All of these factors make it easy for an opportunistic cybercriminal.
According to Greg Shannon, chief scientist at the CERT Division of the Software Engineering Institute at Carnegie Mellon, “Size is somewhat of a red herring. It’s more about scale. Small- and mid-sized businesses are a huge target because attacks are automated. The criminals don’t care who they’re attacking, and while any given business isn’t worth much, they have viruses or ransomware that allow them to attack thousands or millions.”
How Small- and Mid-Sized Companies Can Improve Security
Small and mid-sized companies can implement a number of strategies to ramp up security and prevent cyberattacks:
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