Why Small Businesses Are Becoming Cybercriminals’ Prime Targets

Why Small Businesses Are Becoming Cybercriminals’ Prime Targets

Discover the key vulnerabilities putting small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) at risk and how to safeguard your business

In today's thoroughly digital, connected-everything world, small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are more vulnerable than ever to cyber threats. While large enterprises dominate the headlines when it comes to high-profile data breaches, SMBs are increasingly cybercriminals’ prime targets. 

A June 2023 study found that 61% of SMBs in the US and UK were successfully hit by a cyberattack in the last year. That digital crime wave comes with a hefty financial impact, with the average cost of breaches against companies with fewer than 500 employees averaging out at $3.31 million per incident.

In this blog post, we'll explore why SMBs are particularly vulnerable to cyber threats and, importantly, how they can better protect themselves.

Why are SMBs a cybercriminals' goldmine?

1. Limited security resources

One of the primary reasons why SMBs are more vulnerable to cyber threats than their larger counterparts is the limitation of resources. Most SMBs have tighter budgets, smaller IT departments, and fewer cybersecurity professionals on staff. This resource gap can make it challenging for them to implement robust cybersecurity measures and invest in the latest security technologies, leaving them exposed to cyberattacks.

2. Lack of awareness

Many SMBs underestimate the importance of cybersecurity or believe that they are too small to be a target for cybercriminals. This lack of awareness can lead to a lax attitude towards security, leaving vulnerabilities unaddressed. Cybercriminals often prey on these misconceptions, making SMBs attractive targets because they are more likely to have weak or outdated security measures.

61% of SMBs in the US and UK were successfully hit by a cyberattack in the last year.

3. Inadequate training

Cybersecurity threats evolve rapidly, and staying informed about the latest attack techniques and prevention strategies is essential. Unfortunately, many SMBs do not provide regular cybersecurity training for their employees. Without proper training, employees may inadvertently click on malicious links or download infected files, increasing the risk of a successful cyberattack.

4. Third-party vulnerabilities

SMBs often rely on third-party vendors for various services, from cloud storage to email hosting. These external dependencies can introduce vulnerabilities into their systems. If a vendor experiences a breach or security incident, it can affect all of their SMB clients, leaving these businesses exposed to data breaches and other cyber threats.

5. Limited access to cybersecurity experts

Large enterprises can afford to maintain in-house teams of cybersecurity experts. In contrast, SMBs typically have limited access to these professionals, making it challenging to establish robust cybersecurity policies and respond effectively to threats when they arise.

6. Weaker infrastructure

SMBs may not have the same level of IT infrastructure as larger enterprises. They may lack the redundancy, backup systems, and robust network security measures that larger organizations can afford. This makes SMBs more susceptible to disruptions caused by cyberattacks, potentially resulting in downtime, data loss, and financial setbacks.

7. Outdated software and systems

Due to budget constraints, SMBs may use older software and hardware that lack the latest security updates and patches. Cybercriminals frequently exploit these vulnerabilities to gain access to systems and data. Outdated software can be a prime entry point for malware and ransomware attacks.

8. Limited incident response planning

Large enterprises typically have comprehensive incident response plans in place to address security breaches quickly. SMBs often lack such plans or may not have tested them thoroughly. This can result in delayed responses to cyber incidents, giving attackers more time to cause damage.

9. Supply chain attacks

Small and medium-sized businesses often form part of the supply chain for larger organizations. Cybercriminals can target SMBs as a means to infiltrate larger, more valuable targets. This exposes SMBs to risks beyond their control.

How to fortify your small business against cyber attacks

Recognizing these vulnerabilities is the first step in helping an SMB improve their cybersecurity stance. Cybersecurity should be a priority for SMBs in the digital age, as the cost of neglecting it can be far more significant than investing in protection.

Keep up-to-date on the latest threats

Cybercriminals are constantly evolving their tactics to take advantage of new tools and new vulnerabilities. The tactics one might have used to protect against last year’s attacks, won’t necessarily work this year. 

Implement best practices across your organization

SMBs can take action to enhance their security posture, such as investing in cybersecurity education, training, and solutions, and collaborating with experts to mitigate these risks.

Get the best-in-class cyber tools

To protect your business against today’s most pressing threats—and those on the horizon, consider a tool like Upfort Shield which provides a suite of protections specifically developed for small businesses. 

Shield provides continually updated AI-powered protections for email & browsing, which means it can protect against the latest threats as they arise. In addition, Shield provides robust employee training for your entire team, phishing simulations to ensure readiness, and proactive endpoint monitoring of your entire infrastructure

Shield implementation is associated with a dramatic decrease in claims related to fraudulent wire transfers, ransomware, and other cyber attacks. Have a policy that includes Upfort Shield? Click here to implement protections right away. If not, click here and learn how to start protecting your business today.

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