The internet has enabled businesses to reach broader markets and enhance efficiency through computer-assisted automation. However, with these gains also comes the need to invest in cybersecurity.
Initially, most businesses only invested in cybersecurity to enhance consumer confidence or abide by data privacy standards. However, with the increasing threat of cyberattacks, cybersecurity is no longer an auxiliary add-on; it is a necessity. Here's why:
60% of Small Businesses Die Within Months of a Cyberattacks
Most cyberattacks happen to small and medium-sized companies, and 60% of them close within six months of a hack or breach. In the U.S, 43% of organizations that suffer catastrophic data losses do not reopen, and 51% run out of business within two years. By any standard, these figures are a cause for alarm.
So, why are cyberattacks so severe?
Cyberattacks Are Expensive
For a long time, cyberattacks were simple hacks on personal devices used to solicit a few bucks from individuals. Over the years, however, bad cyber actors learned they could make more money by targeting businesses. As data gradually became the new oil, they advanced their tactics to compromise corporate networks and steal files.
Data theft is a bigger concern for modern-day organizations than physical thefts. Typically, cyber attackers gain unauthorized access to your systems and steal or encrypt your data. They will then demand ransom in exchange for not publishing the information or for restoring your access. The average ransom fee is about $200,000, and the total cost of recovering from a cyberattack is approximately $3.86 million. Unless you're operating a multinational company that posts millions in returns per day, a single cyberattack is enough to bring your business to its knees.
They Stall Operations
The other way in which cyber-attacks can force you into closing down is by stalling your operations. Based on the recent hacks, cyber attackers seem to focus more on disrupting operations than on stealing data.
Let's take the recent Colonial Pipeline hack, for example. The ransomware attack forced the company to shut down its entire gasoline pipeline system for almost a week after hackers gained access to their networks. According to Colonial's Chief Executive Officer, Joseph Blount, that was "absolutely the right thing to do" because they didn't know the attackers or their motives.
Interruption or stalling of operations is usually very costly. If it continues for several days, it can cause irrecoverable losses. Over 90% of businesses that lose their data centers for ten days or more go bankrupt in less than one year. Bad cyber actors are using this to scare organizations into paying the ransom. For instance, in the Colonial Pipeline case mentioned above, the oil company had to pay the hackers over $4.4 million to resume operations.
Cyberattacks Are Bad for Your Reputation
It takes several years, or even decades, to build a solid reputation and just a single cyber incident to destroy it.
The modern consumer is very cautious about how you obtain, store, and use their data. They expect you to safeguard whatever information they trust you with, whether it's their credit card credentials, purchase histories, logins, name it. If you cannot meet this expectation by falling prey to hackers, you lose their trust.
This can result in loss of customers, both present and prospects. For instance, Facebook lost a significant chunk of its active users after the 2019 Cambridge Analytica Scandal. According to Mixpanel, the tech giant's posts, likes, and shares dropped by approximately 20%. While Facebook survived the reputational damage, that's not always the case, especially for SMBs that don't have the same financial muscles to bounce back.
What Can You Do to Secure Your Business? 4 Cybersecurity Tips for Small Businesses
The COVID-19 pandemic has left CSOs mulling between cutting down costs and implementing their cybersecurity plans. In such circumstances, there's only one way out—going back to the basics.
Throughout this Cybersecurity Awareness Month, we want to make one thing clear: Cybersecurity begins with the basics. As you plan to roll out the latest intrusion detection and prevention technologies, do not overlook the simple data security best practices:
- Train your staff on cybersecurity: Almost 90% of cyber attacks stem from staff negligence. Your employees are your first line in the war against cyber crime and also your weakest link. Regularly train them on threat detection and prevention. The awareness exercise shouldn't be a onetime thing; conduct occasional training and periodically assess their readiness levels.
- Invest in preventing unauthorized access: Most cyber-attacks begin with hackers accessing your network. Therefore, invest in solid gateways and access protocols to keep threats out of your system. These include having strong passwords with up-to-date expiration protocols, firewall protection, limiting access to crucial files and networks, email and spam filtering, and using VPNs where necessary.
- Backup your files and data: Cyber attackers thrive on stalling operations by denying organizations access to their crucial files. With offline, easy-to-retrieve copies of your data, you avoid undue pressure that may force you into paying ransoms. It also helps you sustain basic operations as you look for a permanent solution during an attack.
- Monitor your systems for threats: It's pretty common for cyber attackers to camp in your network for months before attacking. During this period, they learn your communication patterns and gather information to help them launch the deadliest onslaughts. Having an IT support team monitoring your systems 24/7 can help you identify and thwart threats on time before they get serious.
LeadingIT offers 24/7, all-inclusive, fast, and friendly technology and cybersecurity support for nonprofits, manufacturers, schools, accounting firms, religious organizations, government, and law offices with 10-200 employees across the Chicagoland area.