Small and medium businesses (SMBs) are integral to the economic development of a country. Besides providing employment opportunities, SMBs spur local growth. Amid increased adoption of e-commerce platforms, SMBs are transitioning to the online business model to gain more brand visibility and customers. However, this pursuit of better prospects puts them directly in the line of cyberattacks. To protect their business from malicious cyber attacks, companies should take the necessary steps to ensure that they are following security standards. Last year, ransomware was the biggest threat the SMBs faced. The sophistication of attacks will likely increase in the times to come.
Numerous SMBs are into software and web application development. According to a report, the SMB software market is expanding at a compound annual growth rate of 7.4%. Its market capitalization will reach US$ 85.72 billion by 2027. However, traditionally, cybersecurity has not been SMBs' strong suit. The low priority given to security protocols has contributed to the dramatic increase in cyberattacks, reaching well over 31,000 daily - a jump of more than 150% from previous years.
7 Cybersecurity tips for SMBs
Securing an SMB doesn't have to be costly or complex. Here is a list of tips to help SMBs secure their web applications, customer data, and systems from cyber threats.
1. Continuous monitoring of network and applications
When businesses run online or are available 24/7, they remain exposed to remote cyber-attacks. Cybercriminals constantly try to look for weaknesses or flaws and exploit them using readily available tools like Shodan and Autosploit. Continuous monitoring manually or using tools can help you identify website defacement attacks or network threats. SMBs that do not want a separate cybersecurity department within the organization can seek guidance and support from online security providers like Packetlabs.
Every small or medium-sized business should leverage antivirus and anti-malware solutions. Unfortunately, business systems such as employee computers and web servers often get neglected. Cybercriminals leverage this opportunity to compromise SMB systems and servers by deploying malware. Attackers often use phishing techniques and other endpoint loopholes to push malicious programs to infect the entire system and deteriorate the overall business workflow. Thus, antivirus and anti-malware solutions can act as a last-resort backstop.
3. Minimize the attack surface
All SMB systems, services, and web applications exposed to the internet make up the attack surface. The increased attack surface is directly proportional to the cyber risks. Thus, vulnerable content management systems (CMS) like WordPress or Drupal and third-party APIs may allow brute forcing or credential-stuffing attacks. Enterprises should perform penetration testing on web applications and educate employees to leverage multi-factor authentication on their accounts. These basic steps can help strengthen the security system and make it difficult for criminals to mount attacks.
4. Keep software and other related apps up to date
Another cybersecurity tip and best practice that SMBs should leverage is to update software, web app dependencies, and libraries to adhere to the latest patches. New vulnerabilities get discovered daily for every technology or system. Thus, companies can implement routine patch management or hire third-party security firms to perform security audits. Patching helps address the existing vulnerabilities and reduces the chance of hackers exploiting them.
5. Backup business and customer data
Ransomware attacks and other malware-based infections are rising. In 2021, observers detected 5.4 billion malware attacks. In the first half of 2022, the number reached 2.8 billion worldwide, according to Statista's report. Businesses should back up data to prevent ransomware and other malware from infecting their systems. Organizations can effortlessly reverse the situation caused by ransomware (encryption) or malware (infection) and retrieve the file from a separate location. This way, no attack can cause business disruption or downtime.
6. Keep your employees and staff aware and trained
Cybersecurity surveys often report increased cyber threats like phishing, fraudulent emails, and malware attacks. SMBs should encourage their employees to understand the dangers and their consequences. Also, SMBs should train their staff and employees to maintain cyber hygiene to recognize cyber risks and respond appropriately. Training about best practices like not opening emails from unknown sources, downloading attachments, and not browsing sites restricted by the organization are part of a robust training module.
7. Set policies and protocols
SMBs should set specific cybersecurity policies and inform all staff and employees to follow them. Security policies should include restrictions like not opening unknown sites, implementing MFA for accounts, and not using personal pen drives in office systems, among others.
As cyberattacks become more sophisticated and automated, SMBs should take proactive actions toward securing their online services, servers, and systems through different security postures. Contact Packetlabs for more cybersecurity tips and practical guidance for protecting your SMBs.