Ask any business leader or IT professional if cybersecurity is essential, and you're likely to get a resounding yes. Ask those same professionals if their business is prepared to combat cybersecurity threats, and you'll likely get responses with much less confidence.
Large corporations and enterprises are no longer the only cybersecurity target. Small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are increasingly being attacked due to their shortage of resources to properly defend against cyber threats.
According to Verizon’s Data Breach Investigations Report, 43% of cyber attacks target small businesses and an alarming 83% of SMBs feel unprepared to handle a cyber attack if and when it occurs. The statistics make it clear that it is no longer sufficient for SMBs to count on their relative obscurity to keep them secure.
Protecting your business network environment against cybersecurity threats doesn't have to be an overwhelming task and isn't only achievable for larger enterprises. Here are the top cybersecurity threats facing companies today and how to fortify these vulnerabilities against future cybersecurity breaches.
1. Ransomware Attacks
Ransomware is a form of malware that penetrates individual and business computers, encrypts files, and then essentially holds it hostage until the demanded ransom is paid to decrypt it. The frequency and sophistication of ransomware attacks have escalated in recent years as liquidity in cryptocurrency has made it easier for cybercriminals to demand payment that isn't easily traced.
High-profile ransomware attacks like the $2.3 million ransom paid by the Colonial Pipeline and the $1 million ransom paid by The University of California at San Francisco illustrate the immense monetary risks of poor cybersecurity.
Vigilant employees who know what to look for are often the best defenses against ransomware. Remember, it only takes one weak link to break a strong chain. Uninformed employees can overlook things that cybercriminals may easily exploit. The businesses that incorporate a rich company culture grounded in cybersecurity best practices are better positioned to combat ransomware attacks and keep their company data secure.
2. Phishing Attacks
Phishing is a form of social engineering that exploits and tricks vulnerable employees into revealing sensitive information and credentials. Phishing attacks tend to mirror credible emails or other forms of reputable communication. Phishing schemes can be incredibly sophisticated and difficult to spot, even for vigilant and tech-savvy employees.
Phishing represents a large portion of the total data breaches that happen to companies every year. A recent report identified phishing emails as the leading cause (67%) of ransomware infections. There are many ways to bolster a business’s defenses against phishing attacks, but arguably the most effective tactic is implementing consistent simulated phishing tests for in-office and remote employees. Similar to fire drills, phishing tests provide employees the valuable opportunity to test their knowledge in a controlled environment before the real scenario occurs. Like the old adage says, “practice makes perfect.”
3. Weak Passwords
Businesses with weak passwords have a growing cybersecurity vulnerability as the decryption abilities of cybercriminals continue to increase. Widely available decryption programs can easily crack weak passwords by trying thousands of common passwords in minutes. Even more intricate passwords that use a combination of personal information and numbers are still vulnerable to brute force attempts as information on social media can be lifted to determine likely passwords.
Businesses need to take proactive steps to educate employees on password management and password best practices to ensure the highest degree of cybersecurity. Here are three tips to strengthen password security that businesses can implement quickly for immediate password improvement:
- Enable multi-factor authentication where it’s available.
- Avoid personal information such as birth dates and pet names.
- Change passwords at least every three months for non-administrative users and 45-60 days for admin accounts.
Keep Your Data Secure with a Proactive Cybersecurity Strategy
Incorporating standardized cybersecurity policies coupled with thorough and consistent training will help organizations reduce their attack surface, avoid costly breaches, and maintain productivity. Organizations that emphasize employee training will have the peace of mind that their employees can effectively defend and protect against cyber attacks.
Fortifying business network environments doesn't have to be difficult, no matter how sophisticated the tools of cybercriminals have become. The good news is that businesses are never alone in their battle for cybersecurity. Experienced business IT specialists are here to design and implement a multi-pronged cybersecurity strategy that will proactively detect and protect against all forms of cybersecurity threats facing your business.