Small businesses are constantly at risk of cyber attacks. According to Verizon’s 2014 Data Breach Investigations Report, cyber criminals most often go after small businesses because cyber attacks are easier to pull off without getting caught, they’re less likely to have the resources for cyber security, and the payoff is far greater. Here are five reasons cyber criminals pose a bigger threat to small businesses:
1. Fewer Resources for Cyber Security
Small businesses are likely to have fewer cyber security resources than large companies. While cyber criminals are constantly developing new ways of cyber attacks, cyber security is advancing at a much faster rate. A big part of cyber security is cyber intelligence, or knowing what kinds of cyber attacks can be expected and how they work so that defenders can prepare accordingly. Good cyber intelligence requires time and money so it’s not always available to everyone who needs it. This means small businesses do not have access to the most up-to-date cyber intelligence so it may be harder for them to prepare against known threats, let alone understand what unknown threats might look like beforehand.
2. Cyber Defense Isn’t Strong
Cyber criminals know that small businesses generally do not have the resources and cyber capabilities that large companies do, which makes cyber attacks on small businesses seem like an easy win. A cyber attack on a big company is more likely to be taken seriously and reported publicly so cyber criminals prefer not to draw attention to themselves by attacking major corporations. Many cyber criminals also find it easier than ever before as technology such as cloud storage and mobile devices has made data breaches more common among smaller businesses with less experience in cyber security.
3. Weak Passwords
One of the easiest ways for hackers is through weak passwords. Statistics show that cyber criminals have an 80 percent chance of getting into a small business with 10 employees by stealing login credentials within the first hour of trying. This means cyber criminals will often send out phishing emails containing malware or related links in order to steal someone’s username and password information after tricking him/her into clicking on it, which gives them access to the company’s network and all their data too. Once inside, cyber criminals can use weak passwords as an entry point to the network and even install malware that tracks all your activities, which can expose sensitive data like credit card numbers, bank accounts, etc.
4. Vulnerable Systems
According to cyber security experts cyber criminals are always looking for new ways into networks via known vulnerabilities. Big companies have cyber security teams keeping an eye out for these types of vulnerabilities but small businesses do not generally have this luxury because they don’t have enough resources or cyber security expertise. This means cyber criminals take advantage of small businesses by finding any weaknesses they may have with their systems and take advantage of them.
5. Older Operating Systems
Cyber criminals also prefer older, outdated systems because it’s easier to find a vulnerability that hasn’t been fixed yet and take advantage. This means cyber criminals will go after small businesses with older operating systems because it gives them an easy way into the system without being detected, which is often how cyber criminals gain access to a network at all through misconfigured older machines or ones with known vulnerabilities.
In conclusion, small businesses are at risk of cyber attacks due to limited cyber security resources and expertise as well as lacking cyber awareness training which leave them vulnerable to cyber attacks.