Cyberattacks tend to occur quickly and when you least expect them, making the responsibility of responding appropriately a task for both your cybersecurity team and individual employees. All staff, ranging from the board of directors, and company executives, to managers, and team members have to be aware of their responsibilities before a cyberattack can cause severe and lasting damage to the organization.

A recent survey found that 47% of organizations have not assessed the readiness of their incident response teams, making the first trial run of their plans at the worst possible time, during a cyberattack. Attackers are constantly testing the defenses and reactions of their targets, as you should. This article will discuss why businesses of all sizes fail to recognize the possibility of a cybersecurity attack, as well as some tips to stay safe online.

The Correlation Between Technological Advances & An Increase In Attacks

Advances in technology are a large contributor to economic growth, however, there is also a correlation with an increase in cyberattacks. Cloud computing, Big Data and analytics, IoT, AI, machine learning, and social media all play a role in the attack surface, increasing cyber risk for businesses. According to IDC, data volume continues to grow 40-50% annually, with a 61% growth projected by 2025 to 175 zettabytes. This drastic growth creates complexity for the need to securely manage data volume.

Artificial Intelligence Additionally, shadow IT, information technology systems deployed by departments besides the IT department that work around shortcomings of the central information systems, also leads to an increase in a company’s attack surface. The shortage of capable IT staff may also correlate with the growing amount of shadow IT, as individual departments introduce new technology. The attack surface expands while potentially creating more system weaknesses because this new technology isn’t under the supervision of the IT department, especially if the shadow technology has not been screened for cybersecurity, and could leave the technology vulnerable to attack if updates are missed.

High-profile breaches play into the narrative that large organizations are more likely to be targeted by cyberattacks. In reality, roughly half of cyber attack victims are small businesses. A data breach damages customer trust, has a severe financial impact, and damages the organization’s reputation, effectively devastating a business. Sixty percent of small companies that suffer a cyber attack are out of business within 6 months.

Small Businesses Face Big Risks

As previously mentioned, smaller companies are frequently targeted in cyberattacks and often suffer greater financial costs as a result. In a survey conducted by the NCSA in 2019, 28% of small companies had suffered a data breach in the past year. A quarter of the companies that experienced a breach filed for bankruptcy, and 10% closed down altogether.

SMB Email RiskThis is thanks in no small part to the fact that small and medium-sized businesses are significantly less prepared than larger companies to prevent and respond to risks. Small organizations often lack the resources and expertise among staff as well as a full-time IT department to protect their organization. Even then, often the IT teams are not typically trained email security experts and lack the necessary skills to prevent emerging attacks. 15% of smaller companies have no immediate plans to implement a cybersecurity program moving forward.

Additionally, employees tend to lack security awareness, which makes them less likely to detect social engineering attacks and email phishing scams. Those scams include impersonation attacks in which attackers send official-seeming email messages that entice victims to reveal sensitive financial and personal data. As attacks continue to grow in sophistication, being unprepared for a cyber attack is no longer justifiable. Every organization is responsible for getting the training and implementing proper security systems in place needed to defend against cyber attacks, and protect their organizations and customers.

How to Stay Safe Online

Cybersecurity TipsData is a business’s most valuable asset and as your company expands, it is crucial that you ensure your network is secure, and the data it stores is also protected. To reduce the possibility of a successful cyberattack, you should implement best cybersecurity practices including:

  • Watch for phishing, ransomware, and other email-borne attacks.
  • Use a password manager that works by storing login details from all accounts you use and automatically logging you in each time you return to the service. 
  • Don’t rely on endpoint security alone as it is the last line of defense, and provides malicious hackers with easy access to your system.
  • Ensure that your operating system and all applications are updated - remember that your operating system and applications are only as secure as their latest security patches.
  • Be wary of emails from personal email addresses.
  • Use email authentication protocols to confirm the legitimacy of messages you receive. Sender authentication protocols help prevent spoofing, business email compromise (BEC), and other dangerous exploits.
  • Critically Important: Implement proactive, multi-layered supplementary cloud email protection that seamlessly complements default security measures with critical additional layers of defenses. Defense-in-depth is crucial in fortifying cloud email against today’s advanced threats.

The Bottom Line

Many businesses, regardless of size, face a series of cybersecurity threats. The best way for your organization and staff to protect against these threats is to have a comprehensive system of security tools. Without a proper security framework, you run the risk of consequences ranging from productivity loss and downtime, at a minimum, to permanent closure, at worst. As methods of attack continue to grow in sophistication, turning a blind eye is no longer acceptable. Every organization must get the training and implement the systems needed to defend against cyber attacks.

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