Cyberattacks are inevitable for small businesses

Issue 6 2023 Cyber Security

Martin Potgieter.

The recent cyberattack on Microsoft is a stark reminder that no organisation, regardless of its size or industry, is immune to cyber threats. Even small businesses, often assuming they are less attractive targets, are vulnerable. But what are the specific challenges small businesses face, and how can you make smart investments in cybersecurity to safeguard your digital assets and maintain stakeholder trust?

The certainty of cyber incidents

The idea of achieving absolute cybersecurity is a bit of a myth. Cyber threats are getting more advanced, targeting businesses of all shapes and sizes across different industries. Some prominent companies suffered attacks in the recent past, including Norton LifeLock, MailChimp and Activision. That shows how crucial it is to change our focus from solely trying to prevent breaches to actually preparing for them.

Small businesses may not be as attractive to cybercriminals as big companies like Microsoft, but they are still on their radar. The motivations of the attackers may differ, but the end goal is the same; to exploit weaknesses and get unauthorised access to valuable information. That is why it is important for small businesses to take action and acknowledge their vulnerability.

To ensure their resilience, small businesses must prioritise preparedness above all else. Instead of simply hoping to avoid an attack altogether, they should focus on having robust systems and processes in place to respond effectively in case one does happen. Having an incident response plan can make the difference between swiftly minimising the impact of an incident and facing potentially disastrous consequences.

Formulate a comprehensive incident response plan

A well-structured incident response plan should include:

• Contingency planning: A clear roadmap for handling different types of incidents is essential. However, it is important to strike a balance in your approach. Creating a comprehensive plan for every possible incident would be overwhelming and impractical. Instead, develop a high-level plan that can address a range of incidents, while having a more detailed plan specifically tailored for common attacks like ransomware.

• Recognising data sensitivity: Understanding your business’s information assets is crucial. Instead of attempting to classify all data before creating an incident response plan, focus on identifying the most critical information that needs protection. Trying to classify all data upfront can create unnecessary bottlenecks.

• Conducting practice sessions: Being prepared is crucial when dealing with cyber threats. That is why practice sessions play a vital role. During these sessions, a potential breach is simulated to see how well the company responds. A ready-to-go decision matrix can help you make informed decisions during a real crisis.

Navigating budget constraints

When it comes to smaller companies, one of the significant challenges they face is dealing with limited budgets for cybersecurity. I know it can feel like a real constraint, but that is where having a well thought out strategy becomes essential. Seek advice from the experts and focus on investing in areas that will impact your resources most.

You have probably heard of the 80/20 rule. Well, it applies here too. By putting around 20% of your budget in the right places, you can reap about 80% of your desired benefits, but here is the catch – getting that last 20% might need a bigger chunk of the remaining 80% of the budget. So, carefully considering which security solutions are worth investing in is essential.

Small companies often find themselves in a bit of a pickle. There are so many security solutions in the market, each claiming to be unique and effective. It is not as simple as picking a cool drink where you know one tastes better than the other. It is more like facing a bunch of magic potions with uncertain outcomes. This complexity makes it particularly tricky to identify the most effective solution when working with a limited budget.

Allocating your resources smartly can lead to some profound benefits. It is all about prioritising the security measures that tackle the most critical vulnerabilities and give you the biggest bang for your buck. It is definitely worth it.

Investing in employee cybersecurity awareness training is another essential aspect of your defence strategy. Cybercriminals often exploit human vulnerabilities through social engineering techniques. That is why educating your employees about phishing scams, keeping their passwords secure, and practising safe online habits is crucial. By doing this, you can significantly decrease the chances of successful cyberattacks.

Above all, and I cannot stress this enough: No business is safe from cyber threats, so it is essential to be prepared.

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