Over the past couple years, we’ve witnessed some of the biggest and most disturbing cyberattacks since the dawn of the Internet age. From WannaCry’s ransomware attack on NHS to the devastating hack on Sony Pictures, the risks involved mean breaches at major corporations continue to capture headlines.
Yet what many of us don’t hear of so much is that small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) are prime targets as well. Due to their lack of resources to equip themselves against attacks and their greater exposure to malware, the risk of breaches faced by SMEs are much higher than you can imagine.
According to the 2016 survey by the Singapore Business Federation, 60% of SMEs polled were prey to cyber attacks. Of these, ransomware and business email scams were the top two cyber threats faced, both of which not only financially disadvantage businesses, but also lower employee efficiency and productivity.
So, why exactly are small businesses at great risk for cyber attacks? Here, we’ve listed a few reasons as to why SMEs are more susceptible to these threats and to outline how serious this cyber-epidemic is:
Compared to their larger counterparts, SMEs lack the budget, expertise and technical capability to implement effective cybersecurity measures. They are not well-equipped to defend themselves from cyber threats, and tend to employ less complex technologies.
In addition, staff often lack the awareness or training about cybersecurity due to the assumption that cyber breaches only occur to big companies.
Small businesses act as a gateway to larger organisations. Since big corporations have sophisticated and up-to-date security defenses, they are harder to penetrate. For instance, many SMEs are subcontractors to large organisations, providing human resource solutions and cleaning, air-conditioning and engineering services.
As SMEs are often electronically connected to IT systems of some of these larger partner corporations, they become perfect entry points to bigger companies and are thus at high risk of cyber attacks.
SMEs are increasingly moving to e-commerce and digitising their business. Moreover, they are largely dependent on their phones to do business, whether it is sending emails or conducting online transactions, all of which expand their exposure to malware.
Paired with the ease of downloading malware that is commonly hidden in innocent-looking apps or emails, SMEs could readily lose passwords, credit card numbers, and confidential information.
Cyber attacks hurt small businesses the most – SMEs are likely to suffer reputational damage and risk losing their business entirely due to their small size. Given these serious consequences, it is crucial for SMEs to take the necessary measures to protect its systems and data – our article on cybersecurity for SMEs list a few ways you can do this. More should be done to increase cybersecurity awareness, implement appropriate security solutions and put a data breach plan in place.
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