The Lessons Small Businesses Must Learn from the World's Largest Cyber Attacks

43% of cyber attacks are against small businesses

If all the world’s most recent cyber-attacks are able to teach us anything at all, it’s that most of us are dangerously unprepared for when one strikes. Therefore, today, companies in every industry should be taking steps to make sure that their cybersecurity efforts are prepared for anything that the internet might throw at them.

In particular, small businesses are in a rather disadvantaged position in the fact that most of them are completely unaware of the very real danger of facing a cybersecurity threat. According to a survey conducted by Small Business Trends, about 43% of cyber attacks are carried out against small businesses.

And, since the internet is continually evolving, and we are seeing an increasing number of small companies take their businesses online, this number is only expected to grow into the future. Unless, of course, we all take the time to learn from past cyber attacks and make a concentrated effort to prevent them in the future.

In the following article, we’re going to take a look at the lessons that can be learnt from some of the world’s largest cyber attacks.

Never Assume You’re Safe

Today, online privacy and security are more important than ever. Therefore, learning how to protect yourself online is a vital skill that everyone needs to learn. However, for small businesses, they also have the added responsibility of ensuring the safety and security of their customers.

That being said, one of the most common mistakes made by small enterprises is that they assume they are safe and won’t fall victim to a cyber attack. This is often because the business owners believe that their company is simply too small to be targeted by hackers.

However, there are plenty of cybercriminals who specifically target smaller companies because of the fact that they are small and won’t likely have any major cybersecurity protocols in place. In other words, small businesses often look like easy targets for hackers.

VPNs Can Prevent Disasters

The fact is that many cybersecurity threats can be prevented by ensuring the proper measures are in place. This includes running the top software for privacy, such as antivirus applications and VPNs.

Of course, antivirus applications are great at finding malware once it’s infected a system. However, to prevent the malware from getting into the system in the first place, it’s important that small businesses use firewalls and VPNs.

Firewalls make it harder for hackers to access a network, whereas a VPN will encrypt any data being sent or received on the network, making it impossible for hackers to see or decode the data even if they were able to access it.

Cyber attacks are Unpredictable

Another important lesson to learn from larger attacks is that they don’t follow any type of pattern. Instead, they often happen at random and are completely unpredictable.

For example, let’s look at the WannaCry ransomware attack that took place in May 2017. Within a single day, the attack managed to infect 230,000 computers around the world and affected small businesses and large corporations alike.

The point is that the attack was completely unexpected. So, the lesson to draw from this is that cyber attacks are random and should be expected at all times.

Prevention is Better Than Treatment

When the WannaCry ransomware attack took place, the files that were infected were not recoverable and even those who attempted to pay the ransom didn’t have any success in reversing the damage. Therefore, as far as cybersecurity is concerned, prevention is much easier than fixing a problem after it’s occurred.

However, risk prevention can vary significantly from one small business to another, depending on what the company does, as well as how they decide to approach the issue.

For example, some small businesses might be content with hiring an IT team to put up security measures and patch any potential vulnerabilities in their infrastructure. Whereas, other companies might go further and want to be more proactive about their cybersecurity defences.

Regardless, preventing a cybersecurity attack means continually monitoring potential threats and constantly testing to find any vulnerabilities in the system.

Small Businesses Can Be Used as Gateways to Bigger Companies

When a small business has large corporate associates and they hold sensitive information, or if the business has some sort of way to access this sort of data, it’s likely that hackers and criminals could see the company as a stepping stone to be able to attack the larger company.

In some cases, larger companies may set up security measures for their partners. However, most of the time, small businesses are left to take care of this on their own and could even be held liable if any of their larger partners’ information is leaked.

Don’t Ever Neglect Cybersecurity

The most important lesson to learn from every cyber attack that’s ever taken place is to never neglect cybersecurity, no matter how big or small a business is.

Of course, it’s understandable that not all companies are capable of hiring a full in-house IT team and upgrading entire infrastructures can be expensive, tedious, and time-consuming. But neglecting cybersecurity completely is almost sure to result in a major catastrophe at some point.

Many companies, especially small businesses, believe that the downtime it takes to perform a security audit is unbearable. However, having important data stolen or having customer information leaked is far worse than spending a bit of time upgrading your systems.

Again, let’s take a look at the WannaCry attack. During the attack, many of the infected computers were still running an outdated version of Windows XP, despite the extended support for the operating system having ended more than three years prior.

And, even those infected who were running newer versions of Windows had neglected to take any security measures, which resulted in vulnerabilities that allowed the ransomware to get in and infect the system.

The lesson here is that it’s vital to always make sure that our systems are up to date and ready for anything that may come their way.


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