Cyber Threats: Who Is at Risk?

Cyber Threats: Who Is at Risk?

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The threat of cyber-attacks continues to rise worldwide. So why are small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) so nonchalant about it? While 87% of respondents on a Manta survey reported feeling immune to attack, reports of ransomware attacks cost businesses an average of $713,000 per attack. Clearly, there’s a disconnect between SMBs’ risk perception and the actual threat.

Business owners can take simple steps to protect against many common attacks. They can also migrate key software and systems to cloud-hosted solutions. Cloud solutions offer higher protection against threats for SMBs, which may be unable to afford dedicated cybersecurity resources.

Many small business owners believe that their companies are too small to be of interest to cybercriminals. Others feel that they’re immune to attack because they do not contain anything of interest to criminals. A Manta survey indicated that 87% of small business feel they are safe from attack, and one in three lacks simple protective tools such as firewalls, anti-virus software, spam filters, and data encryption tools to protect against attack.

Yet the opposite actually holds true: Criminals target small to mid-sized businesses at a growing rate. In 2016, criminals breached the defenses of 28 million small to mid-sized businesses in the United States. Fifty-five percent of companies responding to a survey from Keepers Security reported experiencing a breach within the past six months.

Even non-profit organizations aren’t exempt from attacks. Civic groups provide a popular and easy target for hackers eager to acquire valuable data such as names, birthdates, and social security numbers. Health data, found among many health-related nonprofits and fundraising groups, provides additional fodder for criminals. Small and mid-sized nonprofit organizations face an equal, if not greater, risk of cyber-attack than businesses, simply because they feel they are immune to attack, yet contain valuable data for thieves.

No company remains immune to attack, but small and mid-sized business are especially vulnerable. They lack the resources to defend against an attack and to clean and restore systems. The results can be catastrophic. The Ponemon Institute conducted a study that affixes a price tag of $690,000 for a small business to clean up its systems after an attack. For mid-sized businesses, costs soar to $1 million and over.

Monetary costs cripple companies attacked by cybercrime, but the repercussions loom larger than paying the bill for cleanup. Companies shatter their brand image when they reveal cyberattacks; look no further than Equifax, the large credit score reporting company that admitted it had been the subject of an attack. Long after an attack is over, the threat of lawsuits, lost business, and bad PR remains for many businesses.

 

Stay tuned in our Cybersecurity series for the continued post.

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