Small business, big target—how to protect data and devices

Understanding the cybersecurity landscape for SMBs

By Mark HoffmannKENOSHA.COM

A leader in the IT industry for nearly three decades, Hoffmann has helped small and large businesses take advantage of technology to better serve their customers and employees. Hoffmann is owner of CMIT Solutions of SE Wisconsin.

One of the most common cybersecurity misconceptions is that only big corporations are prime targets for hackers. But as online threats proliferate, small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) increasingly find themselves in the crosshairs of cybercriminals.  

With digital risks accelerating and business operations continuing to move online, the potential for problems is growing. Yet many SMBs still lag behind when it comes to cybersecurity preparedness. 

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, more than 40% of cyberattacks are specifically targeted at SMBs. And a staggering 60% of those organizations affected go out of business within six months. Despite these alarming figures, studies show more than half of all SMBs still haven’t installed adequate cybersecurity measures to protect themselves.

The Evolution of Cybercrime

Today’s cybercriminals employ an arsenal of advanced tactics: ransomware, spearphishing, social engineering, and brute-force password hacks, among others. These complex forms of online crime aim to infiltrate business networks, compromise sensitive data, and steal personal information.  

The rise of the dark web has made it easier than ever for cybercriminals to buy and sell this kind of stolen data, further fueling the explosion of cybercrime. The shift to hybrid and remote work in 2020 also served as a critical inflection point, offering hackers millions of new points of vulnerability as people started working from home on unsecured laptops and mobile devices.

So why are average businesses—everything from local mom-and-pop shops to manufacturing companies to small professional services providers—such attractive targets for cybercriminals? There are many reasons. 

Unlike large corporations, which have dedicated IT departments and substantial cybersecurity budgets, SMBs often operate with limited resources and expertise. This means they lack the safeguards necessary to defend against increasingly sophisticated threats, like heightened security awareness training or robust IT infrastructure.

What Kinds of Threats Are Companies Facing?

Pick your poison: phishing scams, business email compromise, malware, ransomware, and insider threats are all skyrocketing. With more than 33 million small businesses employing 62 million people in the U.S.—nearly half of all private sector employees—SMBs face a wide range of cyberthreats.  

Phishing remains one of the most common and effective methods used by cybercriminals to gain access to sensitive information. Typically, hackers will impersonate legitimate entities like banks or government agencies, then send an email that appears official in an attempt to trick users into resetting their passwords, confirming bank account details, or divulging other personal information.

Ransomware attacks, on the other hand, attempt to encrypt a company’s data, prevent access to it, and then demand a ransom in exchange for the decryption key. These attacks can disrupt day-to-day operations and have devastating long-term consequences, including total data loss, financial damage, and reputational harm.

How Can Everyday Computer Users Help with Cybersecurity?

Despite the growing sophistication of cyberthreats, every employee plays a crucial role in defending their company against digital attacks. Practicing good cybersecurity hygiene includes: 

  • Creating strong, unique passwords comprised of letters, numbers, and special characters
  • Using caution before opening suspicious emails, downloading attachments, or clicking links 
  • Making sure software and hardware stay updated
  • Taking cybersecurity awareness training and best practice education seriously

Employees serve as the crucial first line of defense against many of these online threats, and their awareness and vigilance can make all the difference in protecting a company’s sensitive information. 

How Else Can Data and Digital Identities Be Protected?

When it comes to cybersecurity, a multi-layered approach is a must. No one tactic can completely protect networks and data from unauthorized access, but weaving multiple tools together can go a long way toward comprehensive security.

At CMIT Solutions, we specialize in just this kind of proactive approach. We deploy a wide range of firewalls, antivirus software, intrusion detection systems, multi-factor authentication, access controls, content filtering, data encryption, and network analysis to keep our clients safe. We monitor changes to the cybersecurity landscape and strive to stay one step ahead of hackers looking to exploit insufficient systems.

Most importantly, we provide strategic leadership for IT protection—not just part-time help that only shows up when systems break. Many small businesses have tried to get by in the past with a part-time employee handling computer issues in their free time. But that probably won’t be able to stop a sophisticated ransomware attack. 

As threats evolve and online dangers increase, your company deserves dedicated IT support that addresses short-term cybersecurity needs while developing a long-term strategy for business success. All of the strategies outlined above work best when integrated into an overall plan for comprehensive protection that is managed and executed by a trusted IT provider. 

At CMIT Solutions, we work to keep you, your employees, and your devices safe, no matter when or where work is done. We’ll defend your data, strengthen your systems, and empower your employees to be smart, safe, and more productive. 

Want to know more about cybersecurity protection for businesses of all sizes? Contact CMIT Solutions today.