While technology continues to be an enabler for productivity and efficiency, cybersecurity issues still plague businesses of every kind. In 2019, the risks posed by cybercrime for small businesses received renewed focus from industry professionals due to the rise in the number of attacks targeting these organizations. More sophisticated attacks and the current scarcity of IT security professionals will present a real risk to companies in the coming decade.

Experts agree that it’s essential for companies to develop a small business cybersecurity plan, so they remain safe in the future. During the last year, 43% of all data breaches targeted smaller companies instead of large enterprises, according to a study conducted by Verizon. Another study by insurance carrier Hiscox also showed that the average cost of a successful data breach is $200,000 on the low end, while other estimates from IBM place it much higher at $4,000,000. For smaller organizations, this is a clear existential threat to their business, with few able to recover after a successful breach.

Cybersecurity Problems that Leave Your Data Vulnerable

For business owners wondering how to protect against cyberattacks, they will need to review the efficacy of their current cybersecurity policies. Hackers evolve their attacks constantly, requiring updated security controls and protocols to mitigate the risk to the organization adequately.

Some of the common ways hackers gain access to devices and networks include:

  • Configuration errors in cloud services or unsecured public websites
  • Lack of a strong password or two-factor authentication policies
  • Unencrypted devices that end up in a criminal’s hands
  • Exploiting wireless routers or devices like mice and keyboards
  • Legacy software or hardware systems with known security exploits
  • Phishing emails and user error due to an employee’s lack of awareness

One area where companies need to pay close attention soon is with Microsoft suspending End of Life support for Windows 7. This will happen in January 2020, and any organization still using the operating system will be at risk after that date. To ensure they don’t fall victim to a cyberattack once support ends, upgrading to Windows 10 will be vital in the coming year.

How to Prevent These Attacks

Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for preventing a cyberattack. Criminals will undoubtedly continue to find new ways to exploit information networks, requiring companies to take a proactive approach when it comes to cybersecurity. Having a small business cybersecurity plan in place will allow companies to respond effectively to threats.

A few of the best practices a small business cybersecurity plan should have are:

  • Always using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) when employees work remotely
  • Conducting a threat assessment on the types of data the company collects and stores
  • Implementing stringent security controls for any Personally-Identifying Information (PII)
  • Studying applicable information and data security regulations for the data they collect
  • Using firewall and monitoring tools to detect threats from outside or inside the organization
  • Educating employees about the risks associated with phishing attempts

As the risk to smaller organizations continues to increase, it may also be necessary to invest in cyber insurance for the company. More organizations now see cyber insurance as a vital response to combatting cybercrime. Different policies are available, so the company will need to negotiate with their insurers to find a policy that suits their business requirements.

2020 Trends in Cybersecurity

Ransomware still presents the greatest risk to organizations. In one instance this year, a Managed Services Provider (MSPs) fell victim to a successful phishing attack compromising employee accounts. This allowed the hackers to target customers of the MSP using the ConnectWise Control on Wipro client machines.

After seeding the client machines with ransomware, the hackers could lock down twenty-two networks in Texas using encryption. With the elevated access MSPs have to their client’s networks, cybercriminals will continue to target these companies in the future.

Other cybersecurity trends to look out for in the coming year include:

  • Automating security controls and deploying Machine Learning (ML) or Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools to improve firewalls and endpoint scanning practices
  • Increased spending as new regulations continue to shape the information security industry
  • Consolidating endpoint security vendors across desktop and handheld devices
  • Implementing disaster recovery and business sustainability solutions including cyber liability insurance
  • Prioritizing analytics and data segmentation to reduce the attack surface of the organization

With the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT), another trend will be to segment networks between information systems and devices. Most devices currently do not have adequate security to prevent dedicated hackers from accessing them and spreading the exploit to other portions of the network. Companies will need to look to security experts to ensure they understand the risks their technology systems pose to the organization.

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