Cybersecurity for SMEs


19th April, 2024

Three ways businesses can ramp up their cybersecurity efforts

If you run a business, you’re no doubt well aware of the risk of cybersecurity attacks and data leaks.

You might also tell yourself that cyber criminals aren’t interested in a company like yours. That they only target big corporates and high-profile companies with huge customer databases and bottomless bank accounts. 

The bad news is, no business is safe. 

In fact, many of the ‘bad actors’ out there have small and medium enterprises in their sights, and count on them to be easier targets. 

The good news is, there are simple steps you can take to protect your business’s online presence and avoid being the weakest link in a security break-down chain, that could go on to impact your customers and suppliers. 

It’s all about being proactive and creative so that those leaks are sealed tight. 

Safety at any size

Recent findings from Cyber Wardens reveal that numerous small businesses mistakenly believe they are too insignificant to attract attention.

This misconception, however, exposes small businesses to potential attacks. Despite their size, these companies remain susceptible because certain threats or malicious actors actively seek vulnerabilities with lower security measures.

Even if your business doesn’t possess apparent intrinsic value in terms of proprietary data or customer information, supply chain attacks can occur.

These attacks involve infiltrating larger entities—such as clients and suppliers — via indirect routes. Consequently, robust cybersecurity practices are crucial for businesses of all scales.

So rather than thinking your size puts you out of harm’s way, think about how you can be proactive in understanding your online security.

Cybersecurity for SMEs
Vulnerable SMEs are open to hackers.

Big bad threats

Just like the big bad wolf, unfortunately, bad actors are looking to bring your business house tumbling down. 

Creative security solutions mean thinking like the bad actors and taking an objective look at the holes and potential leaks in your security measures. 

A bad actor is anyone who tries to exploit your business in a way that can impact your systems, data or customers. And, surprisingly, they can be intentionally or unintentionally causing harm. 

They might want to gain access to your account to launder money, or they might be looking to steal from you by scraping small amounts of money.

For example, scraping a few cents from your account doesn’t sound like much, but when they’re doing it to thousands of accounts regularly it becomes quite lucrative. 

Once they have what they want, they may sell your information to other cyber attackers, who could lock you out or hold you to ransom. 

It might also be innocent. Someone who feels too busy to send a document through the appropriately encrypted channels might share it via email. This could leave both your business and your clients exposed to a data breach. 

Be creative and proactive

So now we understand the risks, how can we avoid them? 

There are many things you can do today for your business to be more secure.

It can be overwhelming, so prioritise your specific business needs, and adopt the most important changes first. The journey to good security posture is a never-ending marathon, not a sprint.

Review your security often and make changes when you need to.

An easy first step is to make sure you are using multi-factor authentication (MFA). MFA requires more than just a password to access an account, making it much harder for unauthorised users.

When handling sensitive documents, it’s prudent to explore secure alternatives beyond traditional email.

Numerous companies now offer robust encrypted platforms explicitly designed for secure document exchange. These solutions safeguard your data during transit and storage.

Alternatively, leverage cloud-based services. By carefully managing access permissions, you can restrict document visibility to authorised individuals only.

Simple proactive measures like educating employees on basic security are also important.

For example, defining what documents should be sent securely rather than just as email attachments, using multi-factor authentication to access data, and moving document storage to the cloud are three critical pieces in the cybersecurity puzzle. 

And keep your software updated, so that the latest known bugs will have been squashed, to keep your system safe. 

Whatever you do, assume the worst rather than hoping for the best. While we all like to believe ‘it won’t happen to me’, in the world of cybersecurity, prevention is always better than cure. 

This article first appeared here:

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