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Why are small businesses at increased risk of ransomware attacks?

The year 2020 will always be remembered for the coronavirus pandemic. It will go down in history for a deadly virus with no geographic boundaries. We have faced the unexpected countless times and somehow managed to deal with it.

Like 2019, 2020 has been an interesting year in terms of data breaches and cyber-attacks. They keep on growing in numbers and brutality. The information security industry is watchful and prompt to meet the danger represented by hacking attacks. Cyber thieves are becoming more professional. Where there is a great deal of money involved, they are willing to invest substantial time and effort to rip off others.

Probably the biggest misconception is that hackers only target large organizations. In fact, there has been a considerable increase in the targeting of small and medium-sized businesses, many of which have little or no security measures in place. In these troubled times, malicious actors are taking advantage of the uncertainty caused by COVID-19 to spread malware. From desktop or mobile interactions, hackers can launch numerous digital attacks meant to compromise business operations. Small businesses shouldn’t make the mistake of thinking that they are of minor importance to cyber thieves.

Let’s understand why small businesses are big targets for ransomware attacks 

Small businesses have the impression that they are immune to cyber-attacks because they are low profile as compared to large organizations. The fact is that they represent ideal targets for malicious actors. More than half of hacking attacks target small businesses, locking them out of their networks and demanding huge payments to get back in.

Some small business owners enjoy a false sense of security thinking that their companies won’t attract the attention of hackers. What they fail to understand is that cyber thieves are no longer an elite few. Powerful hacking tools are available to anyone these days.

Given that the threat of ransomware is on the rise, it’s important to understand what motivates hackers to pick on small businesses. The following combination of factors makes organizations of this particularly vulnerable and easy targets.

Small businesses have sensitive data 

Any piece of information that would pose a risk to the company if it were to be released to the general public or a competitor is considered sensitive information. Businesses, no matter the size, generate impressive amounts of sensitive data. Hackers will look for customer information, employee data, trade secrets, inventory information, and industry-specific data. What do cyber thieves want to do with all this data? Hold it for ransom, of course. When you turn on the computer, a full-size window pops up together with a message notifying you that the system has been hacked.

Small businesses owners don’t bother to protect themselves 

According to the experts like Cytelligence, small businesses don’t make a significant investment in cybersecurity to better protect sensitive information. Why they refuse to invest remains a mystery. Indeed, small businesses have limited funding, yet effective cybersecurity protection isn’t expensive. Even if it would cost small businesses more money per device to buy security software, it would be a worthwhile investment. A cyber-attack is much more expensive. We’re talking about millions in damage to the IT infrastructure, loss of revenue due to downtime, and loss of customer confidence. Not investing in cybersecurity means accepting the risk.

Small businesses fall short of compliance regulations 

The truth is that smaller companies often fall short of compliance regulations. The main reason for non-compliance is a lack of understanding of industry guidelines, which make very strict recommendations in terms of security. The vast majority of small business owners delay and even stop business investments. Data protection and privacy legislation are meant to protect information technology and computer systems from breaches and unauthorized activity, which is why it should be given greater importance.

What is the best way to handle a small business ransomware attack?

If your business data has been stolen and held hostage, you might be tempted to give into the cyber thieves’ demand for payments. The malware has encrypted almost all the files in the system and now you’re prompted to pay up. Generally speaking, experts confirm that it’s not a good idea to pay the ransom because there is no guarantee that you’ll receive the data back.

The best course of action is to find a professional and ask them to help you unlock the system. A professional will diagnose the extent of the problem and successfully remove the malware. They may even be able to restore your files.

Instead, try and prevent ransomware attacks from recurring or happening in the first place. Malicious software that deploys encryption to hold sensitive data for ransom has been highly successful in the past years. Now, it has found its way into the computers of small businesses. Nobody is safe from ransomware, so it doesn’t matter what industry you are in or what size your company is. If you have precious data saved in your system, here are some suggestions to stop ransomware attacks:

  • Implement strong technological defenses – Hackers are developing incredibly sophisticated malware, which is why it’s necessary to have strong technological defenses in place. Technology has advanced in terms of detection and protection tools. Make sure you can identify attacks early on through web application firewalls, IPS, and other solutions.
  • Update hardware and software – Don’t rely too much on hardware or software that is outdated. At one point or another, cyber thieves will discover your vulnerabilities. Don’t use decade-old machines and don’t forget to update the software every now and then. A hacking attack can spread rapidly

The best way to put an end to ransomware attacks is prevention. Managed security packages and monitoring solutions can prevent threats and compromised user credentials, so you can stop an attack before it even happens.

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This article was written by SmallBizViewpoints from Small Biz Viewpoints and was legally licensed through the Industry Dive publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@industrydive.com.