Small Business Employees Are Hackers’ Secret Weapon

small business employees are hackers secret weapon

“Hello friend! I have some bad news for you. I have encrypted your files!” Thus begins the ransomware email that could spell utter doom for your business. Cybercriminals are actively targeting small businesses and small business employees are hackers' secret weapon.


Small Businesses Targeted by Hackers

Cybercrime is big business. According to Cybersecurity Ventures, it’s projected to cost the world $10.5 trillion by 2025. Moreover, cybercriminals have found a sweet spot—small businesses.

According to the 2021 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report, nearly half of cyberattack victims were small businesses. This may seem counterintuitive for two reasons. First, it would seem that larger organizations provide the biggest payoffs. Second, the news is filled with headlines about cyberattacks on big companies, not small ones. One example of this is the Target hack during which hackers stole the credit card details of tens of millions of people. But here’s the thing about that hack that most people don’t know—the hackers gained access to Target’s network by hacking a small HVAC company and stealing that company’s access credentials to Target’s network.


Cyberattacks Shutdown Small Businesses

A cyberattack can put you out of business because the cost of cleaning up after a breach can be considerable. Recent statistics show that around 60% of SMBs forced to suspend operations after a cyberattack never reopen for business. The lost revenue and cash spent cleaning up the breach can really add up.

Despite these facts, only 14% of small businesses are prepared to respond to a cyberattack, according to an Accenture study. “The threat environment is active and intense,” says Cyrus Walker, Managing Principal at Data Defenders. “A cybercriminal has a greater opportunity for success by attacking a small business because they lack cybersecurity protections.”

Employees are Hackers’ Secret Weapons

So how are your hackers’ using your employees as their secret weapon? Because the number one way hackers gain access is when someone clicks a link or an attachment in a malicious email. Once inside your network, the attackers can do things like steal or encrypt your data.

“Small companies make two key mistakes that leave them vulnerable to cyberattacks. They assume that hackers won’t target them and they also don’t provide any cybersecurity training for their employees,” Walker says. “The top cybersecurity threat to small businesses is really an insider threat because employees let the cybercriminals in.”


Tips for Preventing Cyberattacks on Small Businesses

Walker offers the following tips for business owners:

  1. Change the mindset and the culture of the organization. Assume you are a target.
  2. Make cybersecurity training mandatory for your employees to intensify the level of awareness of possible risks and threats that exist.
  3. If you don’t have tech resources in-house, find a provider to help you identify cyber threats to your business. They should also help you develop an incident response plan.

Make cybersecurity planning as important as other aspects of your business planning process. Failing to do so could leave your business facing a preventable existential threat.

Your employees may be unknowingly in cahoots with cyber attackers because they lack proper training and awareness. But now that you have some idea about the risks you face, failing to take steps to protect your business makes you more of a knowing collaborator, doesn’t it?

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