SMEs must put their heads together in prioritizing cyber security. Source: Shutterstock.

SMEs must put their heads together in prioritizing cyber security. Source: Shutterstock.

SMEs are low hanging fruit for cybercriminals, and they don’t even know it

Regardless of organization size, most business owners are integrating some form of technology into daily operations. A sizable amount of resources are being pumped into technology ‘starter packs’, which includes everything from buying the latest digital solution to hiring the right talent.

Indeed, having the right technology and a well-equipped team can propel a business forward, but it does not make it invincible. Cybersecurity falls off the radar, and this can be disastrous. Cyberattacks have the potential to cripple, and ultimately kill a business that is ill-prepared.

Small to medium enterprises (SMEs) stand to lose the most when it comes to cyber breaches, yet many do not prioritize it. Poor security makes SMEs low-hanging fruit for hackers.

Cyberattacks are getting increasingly sophisticated, and hackers can easily gather information on companies. Through social media like LinkedIn, for example, information on an organization’s C-suite is easily available.

With this information at hand, there are countless ways to compromise a company’s cybersecurity. These often include spear-phishing, where an attack is disguised as an email from a trusted vendor to steal personal information.

These emails are often targeted, therefore the recipient less likely to delete the emails. Ransomware is also common-hackers may steal and encrypt data, holding it ‘ransom’, and will only return it in exchange for money.

How then, can the SMEs protect themselves from cyberattacks?

Firstly, recognize that cybersecurity must be a priority. All too often, SMEs hang on the false assurance that they would not be targeted as they do not have the deep pockets of big corporations.

This must change, and SMEs cannot afford to drag their feet. If they don’t already have a solid cybersecurity strategy in place, they are behind. Bring in outside help if needed – consultants can help SMEs gauge the health and maturity of their systems, and provide constructive feedback.

Secondly, pay attention to the details. Administrative accounts, for example, should be reserved for a select few. These accounts are easy targets, so dialling back can help reduce the risk of cyber attacks.

Thirdly, invest in employees. It is crucial for SMEs to invest in cyber security training and have comprehensive cyber policies that are mutually agreed to by all employees. It is important that employees be thorough in ensuring company data is safe.

Simple actions such as two-factor verifications (TFA) and constant password change can go a long way. Other measures such as not accessing sensitive data over unsecured networks, and not downloading third-party apps on work laptops also makes it harder for hackers to penetrate company systems.

Cybersecurity is not something that companies should trifle with. Cyberattacks will put a company’s reputation and bottom line at stake, and thus erode consumer trust.

Often, the best offence is going on the defence. Being proactive in preventing cyber attacks can shield SMEs from a potential loss of income, consumer data, and hefty lawsuits.