Many are surprised to hear that cybercrime is the single most common form of crime. In reality, you’re statistically more likely to have your password stolen than your wallet, especially if you’re a small business navigating the new realities of remote work.
Back in 2019, Accenture found 43% of cyber attacks are aimed at small businesses. Less than a quarter of those businesses were trained or ready to defend themselves – and that was before the pandemic.
As companies scrambled to implement new solutions quickly, hackers went to work, preying on the ill-prepared and setting data hacking records.
Whether you were one of the lucky ones who escaped unscathed or want to avoid another exploit, follow these protective cybersecurity practices.
For every seemingly innocuous internet meme or incoming email, you get countless phishing scams, and malware attacks are waiting to take your company down. These are two of the most common types of cybercrime, defined as any illegal activities carried out using technology.
The cybercriminals who conduct these attacks may work solo, as an organized crime ring or within a state-sponsored group. Whatever the makeup, they’re typically evolved, professional organizations that are highly lucrative.
Altogether, cyber-attacks cost global businesses and governmental institutions $6 trillion last year. Embroker reports, “Cybercrime, which includes everything from theft or embezzlement to data hacking and destruction, is up 600% as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
By 2025, the cost of a nefarious cyber activity expects to rise 75%, resulting in $10.5 trillion in losses each year.
“At a growth rate of 15 percent year over year, Cybersecurity Ventures reports that cybercrime represents the greatest transfer of economic wealth in history,” according to the same Embroker report.
Unfortunately, the consequences aren’t all monetary.
Small businesses in particular are some of the most highly targeted – and most vulnerable – entities. Between their lean budgets and tight-knit operations, one disruption can throw the entire organization into a lurch.
Be it a damaged piece of essential IT equipment or a leak in sensitive customer data, it can take everything a small business has to recover from a breach if they’re ever able.
The good news? Even if you’re limited in resources, there are still plenty of ways to hack-proof your organization.
1. Train and retrain your team: In terms of cost-savings, training is by far the most economical (and effective) means of protecting against a cyberattack. But if you’re like most companies, only 30% of your employees complete annual cybersecurity training. That remaining 70% is a huge liability. A knowledgeable workforce is your first line of defence in stopping an attempt before it becomes an attack. Regularly review updated security practices to help staff spot abnormal requests, back up their data and keep their devices updated.
2. Strengthen your device and platform passwords: At a minimum, every laptop, phone and account should be protected with two-factor authentication. It’s also wise to create long passphrases instead of simple passwords and keep them stored offline so they’re less susceptible.
3. Utilize updated anti-virus and anti-malware software: Of course, all the password maintenance in the world won’t help if your system gets infected with a virus. There are even malware programs specifically created to track keystrokes or monitor your screen, giving a hacker direct access to your accounts and sensitive data. Staying diligent about keeping these low-cost solutions up-to-date is a must.
4. Create a damage control plan: Even the most cyber-diligent companies can experience data breaches. Best to plan for the worst and have a roadmap for mitigating potential damage. Be sure to designate your incident repair team in advance, and make sure employees know who to contact in the event of a breach.
Remember that cybercrime is continuously evolving, so a static or outdated strategy is virtually useless. Staying vigilant and outsmarting threat actors requires proactive prevention.