Why SMBs Fail After a Cyberattack

Malicious cyberattacks are increasing every day around the globe. In fact, cyber-incidents nearly doubled from 82,000 incidents in 2016, to 159,700 in 2017. While the media often depicts large corporations as the primary target for cyberattacks, small business are just as likely – if not more likely to be targeted. An article on CSO looks at why small- to medium-size enterprises (SMEs) and small- to medium-size businesses (SMBs) often fall victim to cyberattacks, in many cases leaving them unable to recover.

1.       Unable to afford IT staff

With so many key entry points where a hacker can gain access to an organization’s data, it is critical that a proper IT team is in place. Not only is it important to have an IT team in place to implement the appropriate security measures, but it is also necessary to have IT managing and maintaining daily operations of those security systems, which can be a difficult task.

For a company that allows BYOD and is connected to different cloud services, this means the IT department has to protect 4 main security components; the user identity, the device used, the network they’re connected to and the cloud services they’re using. This normally leads to purchasing at least 4 different security platforms.

While staffing an IT department may not be an issue for large corporations, many SMEs and SMBs simply cannot afford it. In many cases, small businesses may only have one individual responsible for managing their IT, and in most instances, nobody is properly managing their computers and networks.  With inadequate resources, it comes as no surprise that cybercriminals are targeting SMEs and SMBs and exploiting their vulnerabilities. Outsourcing IT to a team of experts helps SMEs and SMBs who do not have the need or the money to hire full-time staff. “Managed Service Providers” provide IT outsourcing that specializes in purchasing hardware/software, installing and maintaining those investments, as well as supporting and protecting them. Next Century Technologies is a Managed Service Provider for both small and medium-sized businesses.

2.       Lack ongoing cybersecurity training

SMEs and SMBs often lack the resources to effectively train their employees on security, which is another reason cybercriminals see them as an easy target. If employees are not provided with proper security training, their poor security habits can provide easy access to a cybercriminal. Not only is initial onboarding training important, but ongoing security training is a must to ensure employees are kept up-to-date on current threats and how to mitigate and/or respond to them.

With many security training programs being expensive and out-of-budget for SMEs and SMBs, their employees often go untrained and unaware of what threats are out there. Not only does the lack of training keep employees in the dark about how to spot a potential threat, but it also leaves them unaware of how to respond if an attack occurs, especially if that attack is malware or ransomware.

According to the National Cyber Security Alliance, 60% of hacked SMEs and SMBs go out of business, because they simply don’t know the way forward.”

Training doesn’t have to take a lot of time and doesn’t require a classroom. Employees can do training right from their desktops or laptops. Contact Next Century Technologies to learn how inexpensive, yet effective, an on-going training program can be. 

3.       The devastating impact of Ransomware

Ransomware has quickly become a preferred method of attack for cybercriminals. In fact, Ransomware was reported as the fasted growing threat in cybersecurity in 2017. Typically, in a ransomware attack, the outcome favors the attacker rather than the victim. While large corporations may have the funds to pay the ransom demanded by a cybercriminal, SMEs and SMBs typically do not. Even if the ransom is paid, there is no guarantee that the files will be returned to the organization or that those files weren’t accessed by the attacker. SMEs and SMBs are often left devastated by these attacks and in many cases, unable to recover.

There is no sure way to avoid Ransomware, but a good business continuity/disaster recovery plan is critical to surviving a Ransomware attack. Ask us how we can help you design a business continuity plan and a backup solution to complement it.

4.     The internet makes a bad reputation difficult to ignore

It is an expectation that organizations who are serving customers will protect their information and keep it safe. When a company drops the ball in keeping their customer’s personal information secure, the customer often feels violated and seeks financial restitution for the incident. Not only does this exposure of information result in potentially steep monetary costs, but also leads to bad press for the organization. In the age of the internet, bad press can permanently damage a company’s reputation, sending current customers looking elsewhere for service and drive potential customers away.

While large corporations may have the funds to hire legal teams to fight for them in court as well as PR teams to help with the bad press, SMEs and SMBs often do not have that option. Not only do SMEs and SMBs often have to deal with bad press on their own, but also find themselves battling monetary costs associated with fines from the breach.

Loss of private data could also lead to massive fines by authorities if HIPAA, CFPB, GDPR, or other regulations were breached in the attack. Such fines could be absorbed by a large company but devastate a smaller organization.”

The future of cybersecurity for SMEs and SMBs

One advantage that SMEs and SMBs have on large corporations is their ability to make change quickly. While large corporations may have a long formal process to go through to implement change, SMEs and SMBs can typically bypass the complexity and act fast.

Next Century Technologies has solutions designed just for SMEs and SMBs that fit their needs when it comes to protecting themselves and training their employees.


About the Author

Tracy Hardin is President and founder of Next Century Technologies in Lexington, KY. She has a bachelor’s degree in computer science from the University of Kentucky and has earned certifications from Novell, Cisco and CompTIA. Her specialties in the field of IT are network design and security, project management and improving productivity through technology. She loves helping people by sharing her knowledge of tech.

10 Cybersecurity Tips for Businesses

In 2018, 71% of ransomware attacks targeted small businesses, according to a report by Beazley Breach Response Services. It’s clear that small businesses are a cybercriminals favorite target, yet many remain unprepared to handle a cyber-attack.

Is it that small businesses don’t care about cybersecurity?

It wouldn’t be fair to make that assumption; however, small businesses do often overlook cybersecurity concerns. This could be the result of many different things. For example, small businesses often do not have the resources to dedicate to cybersecurity. In fact, some of those businesses don’t have a dedicated IT individual/company at all. In some instances, small businesses may be carrying the “it won’t happen to me mentality” – despite plenty of statistics stating that small businesses are the most susceptible to a cyber-attack. And then there is the complexity of the topic. Many organizations don’t understand cybersecurity. Mix the lack of understanding with the other reasons that cybersecurity is often overlooked, it’s easy for small businesses to put it on the back burner and forget about it.

Out of sight, out of mind

Another reason it’s hard to get organizations to care about cybersecurity is that “if they can’t see it, it isn’t there”. It’s easy to take physical security of your organization seriously. You know that you must lock the office door when you leave, or that leaving medication unlocked and unsupervised could lead to its disappearance.

Unfortunately, cybersecurity doesn’t work the same way. Organizations can be told about cybersecurity risks and best practices, but not being able to physically see the danger makes it difficult to care or prioritize those safeguards above others. Think about it, you’ve used the same password for everything, for years. It’s not a difficult password so it’s easy for you to remember. You’ve heard that complex passwords are important, and you know you should never use the same password across multiple accounts, but you’ve been doing this for years and nothing bad has happened, so it’s probably not a concern for you. Cybersecurity is often out of sight, out of mind.

Healthcare organizations are especially vulnerable

The healthcare industry is the most targeted industry by cybercriminals. Many of the reasons for this are the same reasons that attackers target small businesses. Healthcare organizations also see a lot of turnover, which could translate to cybercriminals as new employees to target, many of which, may not be properly trained.

The value of healthcare data to a cybercriminal is also unparalleled. Medical records bring in big bucks on the dark web, allowing these attackers to see large returns for even just one successful attack.

Don’t wait till it’s too late

The worst mistake you can make is to think you’re not at risk, or not think cybersecurity is a high enough priority to do something about it. Small businesses need to take what we’ve learned about cybercriminals targeting them as a warning and act before they too become another statistic.

Cybersecurity tips

1. Recognize You’re a Target – First and foremost, you must accept that you are a target for cybercriminals. Every organization, small or large is a target and no industry is off limits. If cybercriminals see value in attacking your organization, they will.

2. Security Risk Assessment – It’s important to understand where your organization’s security gaps are. Perform a Risk Assessment to determine what safeguards should be in place but are not. For example, policies, data backup procedures, inactivity timers on your computers, etc.

Security Awareness Training helps!

3. Security Awareness Training – Employees must be trained on cybersecurity and understand how to spot malicious attempts made by cybercriminals. Employees should know how to spot a phishing email and the dangers of clicking attachments or URLs within emails, as these are common methods for a hacker to get in.

4. Complex Passwords – Passwords must be complex, reasonably long (at least 10 characters), and different across all accounts. Simple passwords can easily be cracked by cybercriminals through a brute-force attack, putting your entire organization at risk. Using repeat passwords across various accounts is also dangerous since one compromised password could give a hacker access to all your accounts.

5. Use a Password Manager – Managing several difficult passwords can be a difficult task, but password security should not be compromised for convenience. Using a password manager is a great way to ensure all passwords are secure. The best part is, you only need to remember one master password.

6. Enable Two-Factor Authentication – Sometimes referred to as 2FA, or multi-factor authentication, two-factor authentication is another layer of security for accessing your accounts, aside from you entering your credentials. 2FA requires a second form of authentication for you to successfully log in. For example, you may have to enter a 6-digit code sent to you via a text message to prove it is really you who is trying to log in.

7. Perform Updates – Ensure your software is being updated when updates become available. Software updates are often issued to fix a vulnerability found in the software. Not performing updates can often leave you susceptible to attacks that could have been prevented.

8. Regularly Backup Your Data – Do not underestimate the importance of routinely backing up your data. A cyber-attack could occur at any minute, and when it does, your data could be at risk. If your data becomes inaccessible or corrupt, through a ransomware attack, for example, you’ll need to be able to get that data another way – from your backups.

9. Audit accounts for suspicious activity – Make sure you’re performing audits on your systems. For example, if you have an EHR, you should be auditing it regularly looking for unusual activity, such as logins after hours, users accessing abnormal amounts of medical records. If inappropriate activity is occurring, the quicker you catch it the better off you’ll be.

10. Cyber Insurance – As cybercriminals continue to become more sophisticated, attacks will continue to occur. It’s no longer a matter of if your organization will be attacked, but when. Security incidents are incredibly costly, sometimes putting organizations out of business. Costs could include a breach coach, forensics, breach notification, credit monitoring, crisis management, and more. Verify that your organization has cyber insurance (this coverage is often not included in your standard policy) to protect you in the event of a security incident.

Have questions? We can help!

Next Century Technologies has been helping businesses with IT since 2001! Call us at 859-245-0582 or click here to reach out to us.

About the Author

Tracy Hardin is President and founder of Next Century Technologies in Lexington, KY. She has a bachelor’s degree in computer science from the University of Kentucky and has earned certifications from Novell, Cisco and CompTIA. Her specialties in the field of IT are network design and security, project management and improving productivity through technology. She loves helping people by sharing her knowledge of tech.

Five Greatest Cybersecurity Threats to Businesses

Here are the five greatest cybersecurity threats facing business owners:

E-mail Phishing Attacks

Those would be the fake e-mails that appear to come from a trusted source. They contain a malicious link or file attachment. The link may look identical to an authentic website to solicit your credentials or infect your network. The attachments will usually contain malware/viruses. Did you know that 92% of malware is delivered via e-mail now?

Ransomware Attacks

A type of malware that encrypts the data in effect making it useless unless the ransom is paid for the decryption key. There has been a 70% increase in ransomware attacks in the past two years. Click here to watch a short video from CBS 60 Minutes on how ransomware works.

Loss or Theft of Data or Equipment

Mobile devices such as smartphones, laptops, tablets, USB/thumb drives, etc. end up lost or stolen. These type of devices can easily be secured through the use of encryption. Windows 10 Pro comes with a license of BitLocker. USB/thumb drives can be purchased with encryption features but it will cost a little extra.

Insider, Accidental or Intentional Data Loss

Employee mistakes are the largest source of breaches, not hackers! Employees can easily mistaken a phishing e-mail as a real e-mail, especially if the “From” has been spoofed. Employees also inadvertently wire money out to phone scammers or e-mail scammers posing as legitimate customers or vendors. Hackers have been known to pay employees to download or e-mail sensitive data. 

Lack of an update policy

Microsoft and Apple identify and remedy security issues in their software through updates all the time. Such updates are free but require resources to implement. Desktops should be updated weekly, and servers need to be updated at least monthly.

Have questions? We can help!

Next Century Technologies has been helping businesses with IT since 2001! Call us at 859-245-0582 or click here to reach out to us.

About the Author

Tracy Hardin is President and founder of Next Century Technologies in Lexington, KY. She has a bachelor’s degree in computer science from the University of Kentucky and has earned certifications from Novell, Cisco and CompTIA. Her specialties in the field of IT are network design and security, project management and improving productivity through technology. She loves helping people by sharing her knowledge of tech.