Thwarting the Bad Guys Online: Small Businesses Must Strengthen Cyber Defenses

By at 28 March, 2022, 12:35 pm

By Karen Kerrigan –

A White House warning to the American business community that Russia is ramping up cyberattacks against the U.S. did not come as a big surprise. The announcement, which also came with steps businesses should take, serves as a reminder about the need for small business owners to take seriously the threat of online actors whose main job day-in and day-out is to steal their data or launch a disruptive attack.

Every business has a role to play when it comes to our nation’s cybersecurity, and small businesses need to bone up on the basics and strengthen defenses, particularly those doing business with critical industries, such as energy, finance, health care, food and water. But, according to Jen Easterly who serves as director of Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (as noted in a March 27 Politico article), “We should consider every sector vulnerable.”

In an August 2021 SMALL BUSINESS INSIDER blog post, we noted five cybersecurity improvements small business owners can implement to strengthen their firms’ defenses. The bad guys are getting more creative and sneakier, so it is important that small businesses take the #1 improvement very seriously – employee training.

It is estimated that 43% of online attacks are aimed at small businesses.

One report found that 23% of U.S. small businesses got hit with at least one cyber-attack in 2021 (some estimates are much higher). The Cyber Insurance blog puts the cost of a data breach at $108,000, a significant amount that is difficult for any small business to absorb. Reputational costs may also add to the staggering pressures many small businesses currently face.

So, there is a lot at stake – for your business and our country – and I’ve rounded up some solid resources and tips to help you more effectively protect your data:

● Small Business Cybersecurity Tips: Understanding the Basics, Kaspersky

● The Most Common Cyberthreats Facing SMBs and How to Prevent Them, Forbes

● Cyberattack Evolution: What Small Businesses Need to Know, Computer World

● New Study Reveals the Tip 3 Small Business Cyber Threats You’ve Probably Never Heard Of (spoofing, clickjacking, and sniffing), Inc.

● 5 Cybersecurity Tips that Small Business Owners Should Know, Cnet

There is no turning back. We operate in a digital economy and world. Cybersecurity must remain a systemic priority for small business owners, which means “turning on” and sustaining effective defenses on a daily basis. Unfortunately, there will always be bad guys online in the digital world. Small business owners need to do their part in disincentivizing their destructive activity, which will also help to sustain and grow their own business.

Karen Kerrigan is president & CEO of the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council.



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