The State of Cybersecurity in Small Businesses

Small businesses are an essential part of the economy, and they face unique cybersecurity challenges. In today’s digital age, businesses of all sizes are at risk of cyberattacks, and small businesses are no exception. In fact, small businesses are often seen as easier targets for cybercriminals, because they have fewer resources to dedicate to cybersecurity. This article explores the state of cybersecurity in small businesses, including the risks small businesses face and best practices for protecting their data. 

According to a 2020 report by the National Small Business Association, 88% of small businesses are worried about cyber threats and 61% have experienced a cyberattack. These attacks can range from simple phishing emails to more sophisticated attacks like ransomware that can result in significant financial losses and damage to a business’s reputation. 

One reason small businesses are vulnerable to cyberattacks is that most don’t have resources dedicated to cybersecurity. According to the same report, only 17% of small businesses have a full-time employee dedicated to cybersecurity and 30% don’t have any employees dedicated to cybersecurity part-time. Without resources dedicated to cybersefurity, small businesses can struggle to implement comprehensive cybersecurity measures and stay up-to-date with the latest threats and best practices. 

Small businesses also must manage the increasing use of mobile devices and remote work. The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the shift to remote work, and small businesses might not have the infrastructure or policies in place to secure their employees’ devices and data. According to a survey by the National Cyber Security Alliance, only 34% of small businesses have a mobile device security policy, and only 18% have a security policy for remote work. 

Despite these challenges, small business can implement several best practices to protect their data and systems from cyber threats. These include: 

  1. Employee education and training: An effective way to prevent cyberattacks is to educate employees on best practices for cybersecurity. This includes training on how to identify phishing emails and other common cyber threats and emphasizing the importance of strong passwords and multi-factor authentication. 
  2. Regular software updates and patches: Cybercriminals often exploit vulnerabilities in outdated software to gain access to systems. Small businesses should ensure that all software and systems are kept up-to-date with the latest security patches and updates. 
  3. Back up data regularly: Regularly scheduled backups can help small businesses recover from a cyberattack more quickly and minimize data loss. Data should be backed up to a secure, off-site location to protect against physical damage or theft. 
  4. Implement a cybersecurity policy: Small businesses should follow a comprehensive cybersecurity policy that outlines best practices for protecting data and systems. This policy should be reviewed and updated regularly to ensure it is effective against new and emerging threats. 
  5. Use firewalls and antivirus software: Firewalls and antivirus software can prevent unauthorized access to systems and detect and block malicious software. Small businesses should ensure that all devices and systems are protected by firewalls and antivirus software and that these solutions are kept up-to-date. 

While small businesses face unique challenges with cybersecurity, they can take steps to protect their data and systems. By implementing best practices like employee education and training, regular software updates, and a comprehensive cybersecurity policy, small businesses can minimize their risk of a cyberattack and protect their business, data, and customers.