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Why every small and medium business needs a cybersecurity strategy

by Cyberguy | Last Updated | March 29, 2022
CyberSecurity - SMB

Cybersecurity is becoming a daily problem for small business owners. This makes the global cybercrime situation critical.

According to recent security studies, most small businesses have exposed data and poor cybersecurity policies, putting them at risk of data theft.

Are you one of the many small businesses who believe they are immune to cyber-attacks?

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Disturbing cybersecurity statistics and trends in 2021

Let’s take a look at some alarming statistics put together by Varonis, a data security firm. We’re not here to scare you. We’re here to make you aware of the dire situation of the global cybersecurity landscape. Hopefully, this will help show the prevalence of cybercrime and need for cybersecurity in all facets of your business.

  1. Human error caused 95% of cybersecurity breaches

Human error refers to the intentional or unintentional actions by employees that cause, spread, or allow a security breach to occur. It can also mean a lack of action in critical situations.

This covers a wide range of behaviors, from opening a malware-infected attachment to forgetting to use strong passwords.

Employees use an increasing number of tools and services in their demanding work environments. They have usernames, passwords, and other information to remember. When employees aren’t given more secure options, they begin to take shortcuts to make their lives simpler. 

  1. The average cost of a data breach in 2020 was $3.86 million

The rising frequency of successful cyber attack attempts implies that the quantity and severity of security breaches are increasing. The victims range from big financial institutions and government agencies to small business firms.

Data breaches disclose sensitive information, putting exposed individuals in danger of identity theft. They wreak havoc on businesses’ image, and  invariably expose businesses to compliance violations.

More significantly, data breaches are costly especially for small businesses. They can impact their financial resources and bottom line.

  1. Phishing is the most common attack technique

Phishing attacks involve hundreds of millions of individuals and organizations every day. They include:

Viruses, malware, distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks and many more threats are overwhelming our digital world. Small business leaders can’t ignore the trends if they want their businesses to survive. And the best line of defense against these threats is a robust cyber security strategy.

What is a Cybersecurity Strategy?

A cyber security strategy consists of high-level plans for how a business will safeguard its assets and reduce cyber risk.

Benefits of a cyber security strategy

The cyber security plan should be a dynamic, living document that can be adjusted to the changing threat landscape and business environment. It’s a roadmap for your company’s main stakeholders to follow as the business environment changes.

A cyber security strategy is often designed with a three- to five-year vision. But it should be updated and evaluated as often as possible.

Do Small and Medium Businesses Need a Cybersecurity Plan?

Definitely, and they should take cyber security seriously for the following reasons:

The statistics

The statistics make it clear all businesses need a solid cyber security strategy. There is no shortage of cyberthreats aimed at small businesses. They could be ransomware, distributed denial of service (DDoS), phishing, or other threats.

The ever evolving threats

A cyber security strategy can also protect your small firm from evolving threats and help keep your business afloat in the modern threat landscape. Some of you may be familiar with the common cybersecurity threats, but it’s always prudent to review them and take note of how they evolve. Here are four of the most common ones: 

1. Phishing

Phishing is a type of social engineering attack that has evolved into one of the most popular and dangerous cybersecurity threats today.

Phishing occurs when a hacker creates a false identity and uses it to mislead someone into submitting personal information by downloading malware, or visiting a malicious website.

What is it about phishing that makes it so popular today? Email, text messaging, instant messaging, and social media profiles are easy vectors that criminals can exploit.

What are some of the most popular phishing techniques?

One of the most prevalent phishing scams uses email to target victims. An attacker sends you an email that appears to originate from your local bank or the government. It asks you to go to a website and enter your username and password.

Another typical strategy is making a false social media account that looks like a friend or family member. The hacker then uses texting to request money or data, making it appear as though it is a family member or acquaintance asking for a favor.

What are some of the most typical phishing warning signs?

2. Malware

Malware is a broad term. It refers to any malicious software that is meant to cause harm to a computer system.

Viruses, worms, or trojans can infect computers. They can steal, delete, or encrypt data, monitor a user’s activity, or hijack essential computing processes.

Worms, viruses, Trojan horses, and spyware are examples of common malware.

Viruses can also encrypt or erase data. They change or hijack core computer functionality, or follows a user’s behavior without their knowledge.

Physical hard disks, USB external drives, and internet downloads are all frequent ways for viruses to spread.

3. Ransomware

Ransomware enables a hacker to encrypt the victim’s computer files and hold them for ransom. Before the hijacked information and system are unlocked, the victim is usually required to make a ransom.

Ransomware is spread by phishing emails or by accessing an infected website without realizing it. Ransomware is destructive since it is difficult to restore information that has been encrypted.

While some victims choose to pay the ransom, there is no guarantee that the hacker would return the victim’s computer content.

4. Social engineering attacks

Social engineering happens when a hacker tricks someone to give them information or access to software. Hackers aim to persuade users to disregard common safety protocols.

What makes social engineering so successful? Social engineering attacks usually target a person’s emotions.

One of the most prevalent deception techniques is convincing someone that they are assisting someone in need. For example, an attacker could impersonate a coworker or a family member and request access to a document, bank account, or sensitive information.

Hackers want something from you

Small and medium businesses don’t have the deep pockets that enterprises do. They have inadequate resources to protect themselves from cyber threats. 

This is the very reason why they are easy targets for hackers. Small packets of information, when piled up, are still valuable to cyber criminals. Here are what they want from you:

Valuable information

Criminals realize that even small businesses have a lot of information they can sell on the Dark Web for a profit. Medical records, credit card numbers, Social Security numbers, bank account passwords, and confidential company information are examples.

Cybercriminals are constantly looking for new ways to steal this information. They either use it to get access to bank accounts and make fraudulent purchases, or they sell it to other criminals.

Computing power

Sometimes cyber criminals are just interested in taking over a company’s computers and turning them into a bot army to launch large DDoS attacks.

DDoS disrupts service to businesses by generating massive amounts of artificial traffic. The hijacked bots contribute to disruptive traffic.


Cybercriminals target both small and large businesses for financial gain. This explains why ransomware is such a popular attack tactic. It frequently succeeds, resulting in revenue for the attackers. Bad actors will continue to use attack tactics that deliver them the money.

A way to the big enterprises

Today’s businesses are digitally connected to each other. They share information, manage supply chain processes, and complete transactions.

Since larger organizations are tougher to penetrate, attackers target small businesses as a way to get into the systems of large corporations. 

Regulatory Requirement

Businesses will pay fines If they are found to have breached information or have failed to comply with requirements such as HIPAA, PCI, SOX, GBLA, or GDPR.

Platforms for storing information in the cloud and machines have expanded as a result of the current growth of firms processing data. As a result, the areas of vulnerabilities have also grown.

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Preparing for Your Cybersecurity Blueprint

Each organization’s needs are unique. Therefore, there’s no standardized solution when developing a cyber security strategy. What’s important is for small business owners to consider all their resources, from their assets and technology to their people.

The 5Ws for building a cybersecurity strategy

Here are critical steps to take to get you prepared:

1. Perform a security risk analysis

Organizations do an IT enterprise risk assessment to examine, identify, and modify their overall security posture. Information custodians will be required to collaborate on the risk assessment.

A thorough enterprise security risk assessment also aids in determining the value of the various types of information generated and kept within the company

It is difficult to prioritize and distribute resources where they are most required without first valuing the many forms of data in the company.

To effectively estimate risk, management must first identify the most valuable information sources to the organization, including the storage locations and vulnerabilities connected with them.

2. Determine your security objectives

A crucial component of a cyber security strategy is ensuring that it is in sync with the business goals.

Set reasonable expectations on:

3. Appraise your technology

Examine your network equipment and applications to see if they comply with security best practices. Figure out how they work on the network, and determine the key personnel who should handle them.

In going through this step, find out what tools are currently used. Know if there are enough qualified people to handle them.

4. Educate employees in security principles

To protect critical corporate information, provide cybersecurity training to key personnel. Establish fundamental security policies and disseminate them to all employees on a regular basis. Create guidelines for how to manage and protect customer information and other sensitive information. Clearly define the consequences of breaking safety policies.

Implementing Your Cybersecurity Strategy

Now you’re ready to implement your security plan. You’ll have to choose a framework to guide you in identifying, detecting, and responding to attacks.

Suggested frameworks:

Cybersecurity Strategy framework

Cybersecurity basic best practices

During the implementation period, remember to carry out basic security best practices, such as the following:

Steps to building cybersecurity strategy

Evaluating Your company’s execution performance

The team must assess the company’s capacity to carry out the plan objectively. They may need to hire third-party expertise or outsource additional tools if they lack the resources to start the approach. Managers must examine potential hiccups, disruptions, and dangers to their plan along the way.

Our final thoughts. We’ve seen cyber attacks affect even the world’s largest companies. That’s why it’s critical for small businesses to implement a customized security strategy while also encouraging your employees to embrace a cybersecurity culture. The most significant benefits and protection for your firm will come from taking a holistic approach to cybersecurity.

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