You’ve installed virus protection, erected firewalls, and paid someone to verify that systems are secure. Then one day, your employees can’t access data, or you find that financial assets have disappeared.
Cybersecurity is a threat 24/7 for companies of every size. But it’s especially hard on small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), startups, and young companies with little knowledge or resources on the depth of the threat.
Nearly half of cyber attacks target small businesses, many of which don’t know how to protect themselves effectively against these threats. Moreover, it’s estimated that 60% of the businesses affected will go out of business within six months.
Types of Attacks
There are many types and variations of cybersecurity attacks. Some of the most prominent include:
- Data Breaches – One of the most common is a data breach, where customer, employee, or other business information is accessed.
- Financial Attack – This is the modern-day equivalent of a holdup. Financial assets may be transferred across many locations to make money impossible to trace and recover. This practice may also include accessing credit card numbers.
- Viruses – Long a danger to companies in the age of electronic communication, viruses and other malware are often triggered by attaching files to email or messaging apps.
- IP – A company’s intellectual property (IP) is often the core of its business. This reality can be especially true of SMBs. Theft of IP can find a company’s product produced in a country with weak patent and IP protections.
- Denial of Service – Many attacks are meant to be disruptive, like Distributed Denial of Service (DDS) attacks where a company’s website is swamped with a high volume of false traffic that shuts down access by legitimate users.
The Impact of Ignoring Cybersecurity Threats
Many companies think that cyber threats aren’t likely to happen to them. But a simple virus protection software may be inadequate as a company scales and its systems become more complex. This apathy could open them to complete loss of control over their data and systems.
Companies are also impacted by failing to train staff on proper data security and system access protocols. This habit is especially hazardous to small companies in the age of remote work; if teams work from public Wi-Fi without setting up proper guards, the result can be disastrous. The same is true for simple email and corporate login credentials, where password requirements allow simple passwords and there are no requirements to change them regularly.
Outdated software is also a common area of cybersecurity concern. With resource and financial constraints a reality for most SMBs and startups, budgeting for VPNs, software upgrades, and other system enhancements are often done on a “when needed” basis rather than systematically reviewed and automatically updated.
Many startups and SMBs start with corporate versions of public email systems such as Gmail. Companies may add level with their company extension at the end.
But many continue to use systems without proper filters for email, web, and messaging apps long after they’ve scaled and the number of entry points for attacks has significantly multiplied.
How to Address Cybersecurity Threats Before They Happen
Some steps can be taken to ensure greater security against cyberattacks:
- Train Employees Well– Establish and enforce protocols for email and messaging passwords, remote login, and other access points.
- Create a Disaster Recovery Policy – No one wants cyberattacks to happen. Still, recent ransom-style attacks have shown the importance of a good disaster recovery program where your data can be recovered from secure backups on-site or hosted by a third-party provider.
- Stay Current-Cybersecurity is a cost of doing business. Not admitting this and rolling the dice is risky. By budgeting for software upgrades, audits, VPNs, and other protocols, companies can protect themselves against new threats and attack variations.
Asking for Help
Another common problem in cybersecurity is failing to reach out for help to secure the necessary training and resources. Many entrepreneurs are focused on building their companies with limited funding and may lack knowledge on what steps to take.
The Henry Bernick Entrepreneurship Centre (HBEC) at Georgian College offers entrepreneurship, innovation, R&D, and mentorship training. We have staff and community business leaders who can help you navigate the challenges of what type of cybersecurity measures your business will need and how to deploy them effectively.
Contact us today to learn more about how we can help guide you through this and other complex realities in building your company.