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The Rise of Cyber Risks for Small & Mid-Sized Businesses

23 June 2023

In today’s interconnected digital landscape, the rise of cyber risks poses a significant threat to businesses of all sizes. 

While large corporations often make headlines when they fall victim to cyberattacks, small and mid-sized enterprises (SMEs) are not immune to these dangers. In fact, SMEs are increasingly becoming prime targets for cybercriminals due to their potentially weaker security measures and limited resources for cybersecurity. 

In this article, we will explore the reasons behind the growing cyber risks for SMEs and discuss how you can mitigate these threats as much as possible.

The Changing Cyber Threat Landscape

The threat landscape for cyberattacks has evolved dramatically over the years. Cybercriminals have become more sophisticated and organised, using advanced techniques to exploit vulnerabilities in business networks. With SMEs becoming more reliant on technology and digital infrastructure, they have become attractive targets. Unlike larger corporations, SMEs may lack dedicated IT teams or comprehensive cybersecurity strategies, making them more vulnerable to attacks.

One reason for the rise in cyber risks for SMEs is the increased connectivity brought about by the Internet of Things (IoT). SMEs often adopt IoT devices to enhance their operations, such as smart thermostats, security cameras, and inventory management systems. However, these devices can create additional entry points for cybercriminals if not properly secured. Without proper security measures in place, these devices can be compromised, providing hackers with a gateway to access sensitive data or launch broader attacks on the business network.

Another key factor contributing to the rise of cyber risks for SMEs is the limited resources available for cybersecurity measures. SMEs often operate on tighter budgets and may not have the financial means to invest in robust cybersecurity infrastructure or hire dedicated IT security staff. This lack of resources can leave them more susceptible to cyberattacks.

Moreover, SMEs may have limited awareness and understanding of the potential risks and consequences associated with cyber threats. This lack of knowledge can result in inadequate cybersecurity measures being implemented or poor employee training in recognising and responding to cyber risks. Cybercriminals are well aware of these vulnerabilities and actively exploit them to gain unauthorised access to sensitive data or disrupt business operations.

What Common Cyber Threats Do SMEs Face?

SMEs face a wide range of cybersecurity challenges that can jeopardise their operations and data security. Understanding these risks is crucial for SMEs to implement effective cybersecurity strategies and protect their valuable assets, customer data, and reputation.

Here are four top cyber risks you need to be on the lookout for today if you have a small or mid-sized business.

  •  Phishing Attacks

Phishing attacks are a significant cyber risk faced by SMEs today, with an estimated 90% of data breaches starting with a phishing element. SMEs are vulnerable to phishing attacks due to limited resources for robust email security systems and a potential lack of awareness among employees.

  • Ransomware Attacks

Ransomware attacks pose a significant threat to SMEs, with the average ransom demand increasing over the years. SMEs can be attractive targets due to weak cybersecurity defences and backup systems.

  • Insider Threats

Insider threats involve employees or internal stakeholders compromising security. This is a significant threat to SMEs, with 33% of data breaches involving internal actors.

  • Social Engineering Attacks

Social engineering attacks manipulate individuals into divulging sensitive information. With the typical organisation facing over 700 social engineering attacks per year, SMEs need to take proactive action to prevent them.

Strategies to Mitigate Cyber Risks for SMEs

Despite the growing cyber risks, there are effective strategies that SMEs can adopt to mitigate these threats and protect their businesses. 

It can be overwhelming to know where to start but here at ICT Solutions, we know exactly how to protect your business. Here’s a couple of measures you can take to ensure you’re on the right path:

  •  Prioritising Cybersecurity Measures

SMEs should make cybersecurity a fundamental aspect of their business operations. This involves investing in robust security measures, such as firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and antivirus software, to create a strong defence against potential cyberattacks. 

These tools help protect the network infrastructure, detect and prevent unauthorised access, and identify and block malicious software. Regular software updates and patch management should also be implemented to address any known vulnerabilities and ensure that systems are up to date, reducing the risk of exploitation by cybercriminals.

  • Employee Training and Awareness Programs

Employee errors account for 88% of all data breach incidents. SMEs should provide comprehensive employee training and awareness programs to educate their staff on best practices for data protection. This includes promoting strong password management, safe browsing habits, and the ability to identify and respond to phishing attempts. 

By empowering employees with the knowledge and skills to recognise and respond to cyber threats, SMEs can significantly reduce the risk of successful attacks. Regular training sessions and reminders can help reinforce good cybersecurity practices and keep employees vigilant against potential risks.

  • Outsourcing Cybersecurity to ICT Solutions

SMEs can consider outsourcing their cybersecurity needs to those who understand exactly how to protect them – this is where ICT Solutions comes in. Securing your business is our business and we can work with you to implement the changes required in equipment, processes and structure. 

Our approach to offering cyber security to businesses is personalised to individual needs. We do our research before setting you up, gaining an understanding of your business, your existing cyber security measures, the potential threats you could be at risk to, and what we can do to help.

  • Investing in Data Backup and Recovery Solutions

Implementing robust data backup and recovery solutions is crucial for SMEs to mitigate the impact of cyber incidents such as ransomware attacks or data breaches. Regularly backing up critical data to secure locations ensures that even in the event of a cyberattack or system failure, businesses can restore their operations and minimise downtime.

SMEs should consider implementing automated backup systems, off-site storage options, and encryption to protect sensitive data. Testing the effectiveness of data recovery processes is also important to ensure that backups are accessible and reliable when needed.

Keep Your Business Safe From Cyber Threats Today

As cyber threats continue to evolve, SMEs must be proactive in addressing the rising risks. By recognising the changing cyber threat landscape, acknowledging the challenges faced due to limited resources, and implementing effective strategies, SMEs can fortify their defences against potential attacks. 

Prioritising cybersecurity, educating employees, and employing the knowledgeable guidance of managed security service providers such as ICT Solutions is vital. 

Speak to our team today about your business needs and find full information on our cyber security services.