How Small-Medium Enterprises Can Increase Cyber Security and what are the Risks they Face

As we all know, cyber-security is a constant point of issue for business regardless they are SME’s (small-medium enterprises) or are established enterprises. Cyber-criminals are exploiting and targeting businesses belonging to all industries niche/sectors and markets for fulfilling malicious agendas. Companies invest hugely on improving their organizational security measures to ensure their data and information is safe from unexpected outside threats.

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As cybercrimes are evolving with the passage of time the techniques and methods used to safeguard from these cyber-threats are also being improved and implemented by companies and businesses. Making improvements in cyber-security is a never ending process, no business or organization can effectively prepare for all types of cyber-threats. Because cybercriminals also evolve as time passes and there are new methods and tools being used by hackers every so often and to prepare for future cyber-security threats it would be a best practice to take feasible steps to secure the most important element of cyber-security data integrity. In this paper i will be discussing some of the most dangerous security risks businesses face along with some prevention measures that companies specially SME’s can use to avoid being attacked by hackers or cybercriminals.

Top Cyber-security threats faced by businesses

Ever thought how much would companies get in trouble if they face a security breach and lose the data of their clients? Imagine this, you have an account in a certain bank and you hear the news from the bank that there has been a security breach and the data of all clients have been compromised. Data can include, name, address, financial details, social numbers etc. What would be your reaction now? It’s safe to say, not positive right? Most of us will lose trust in a company whom services we use. That’s the reason why companies all over the world spend a significant amount of their revenue in re-enforcing their cyber-security sections to be prepared at all times for providing cyber-security defense and offense.

Let me explain some security vulnerabilities that are taken advantage of by cybercriminals in SEM’s or in any-other business or company. As no business is safe now a days, hackers target both small and large companies and businesses to fulfill their personal purposes. Such a misuse of skills right? The most dangerous cyber-threats that are faced today by small, medium to large enterprises can be broken down into the below four categories as 90% of the cyber- attacks are related to below categories:

  • Ransomware and Cryptolockers
  • ·Social Media, Scams, and Email Threats
  •  Smartphones and the Internet of Things
  •  Business Email Scams
  • Vulnerabilities
  •  Data and system Breaches
  •  Phishing Attacks

Vulnerable IoT devices

There are over 23 billion IoT devices used by people that are expected to reach 30 Billion in incoming years. The issue SME’s face in terms of IoT devices is that a high number of devices are not equipped with proper security updates to patch any existing security loop holes and vulnerabilities. Not installing important softwares and security updates in IoT devices is a high security risk that exposes millions of users to cyber-attacks every year.

Prevention: This should be our top priority to regularly check our device’s updates and install up-to-date software’s and operating systems to ensure maximum protection.

Use of compromised devices

Cybercriminals and hackers are highly skilled they can penetrate into IoT devices if they found even a smallest security loop hole before you know it you will find that your device is compromised. Hackers than can silently use a victim’s or compromised organizational device to send out malicious emails and perform spam related activities to further their political or personal agendas.

Prevention: The best way to prevent an attack or compromise to our devices like mobiles, laptops and smart gadgets is to increase security of the device and we can do that by equipping our device with latest active security monitoring programs to make sure active protection.

Weak or unsafe network and communication

Many SME’s do not use the end-to-end encryption method to encrypt the data that is transferred into their networks. The data that is being sent out to a network include sensitive information like passwords and other credential information. When this data is not encrypted its mean it is traveling through network in clear text form and is not converted into HASH form that can be easily sniffed by hackers by using Man in Middle cyber-attacks.

Prevention: It is best that companies use the devices and applications that use end-to-end encryption methods to secure the network and your data.

Ransomware attacks

Ever heard of this one? It’s quite popular now a days, that new types of viruses are encrypting data of companies to extort them for money. The number of Ransomware attacks are increasing rapidly hackers are gaining access to data of more and more organizations.

Prevention: Installing ransomeware protection firewalls and softwares can prevent such attacks.

Identity theft & Data breaches

Organizational systems of SME’s that are connected to unsecure network can expose IP address information of the devices that can allow hackers to pinpoint and find the devices and target them exclusively causing data breaches and credential information leaks.

Prevention: Always make sure the network your device connected to is secure. Avoid connecting your devices to randomly publicly opened wireless connections. Believe no not some open access Wi-Fi networks are intentionally deployed by hackers for the sake of malicious activities and gaining access to the devices and data of connected users..

SME’s defensive measures to avoid cyber-risks

Tackling cyber-threats and increasing protection against increasing cyber-security risks with limited resources is not that of a big challenge. Although this is true that in most cases SME’s or start-up businesses lack in high tech security measures. But with proper knowledge and prevention methods small business can increase their security and prevent major cyber-threats. Below are the best 5 tips for small business to efficiently tackle cyber-risks.

Use Security Browser Toolbars

Now a day’s most of the latest internet browsers offer customization features and allows installation of third party extensions to the browser for a personalized experience. From the extensions or plugins store, find and install a well reputed security extension or toolbar that provides identification of the phishing websites. But always remember that these tools will only let you know that this website may contain harmful elements or phishing attacks. But you can still visit that website on your own risk if you click on “proceed anyway option” and it is highly not recommended to visit potentially dangerous websites. And the most satisfying part is that these extension and plugins are mostly free and can really increase digital security.

Anti-Virus and firewall Software’s

Most popular anti-virus software’s including 360 Securiy, Kaspersky, Avast, Avaira, and Malewarebytes etc. now provide special built-in firewalls that monitors online browsing activities and blocks any suspicious looking website or page. These firewalls also help in identifying the safety and security of online shopping marketplaces and websites. Having proper antivirus software’s and firewalls installed into the systems of your workplace can increase protection from known and unknown threats.

Using complex passwords

This is an essential and basic knowledge that everyone owning a small business must know and understand. Unfortunately there are a high amount of users that choose too much common passwords like their birthdays, car numbers or phone numbers. Cyber criminals and hackers can use password guessing methods like Brute force attacks and dictionary attacks to find out these generic passwords. So it always a best practice to secure your business devices with strong combination of password that will include, uppercase, lower case, numbers and special characters. This will make this intensively hard for hackers to guess out any passwords.

Educating your employees is important

Employees are the most crucial asset of any organization and at the same time employees are also one of the biggest security vulnerability of any organization. Poorly trained or unskilled employees in your small business can pose a biggest threat to the security of your business. There have been a number of cases where employees open phishing emails and install malwares in organizational systems without knowing about it as they fell victim to scams of hackers. Proper cyber-security training programs for

employees are very important for any organization no matter small or large to prevent any security risk due to human error. Therefore always actively engage your workplace employees in cyber-security awareness programs to enhance their knowledge and sharpen their skills. So they can identify and tackle any cyber threat.

Hire a cyber-security insurance company

There are a lot of high technologically equipped cyber-security filed professional insurance companies that provide full cyber-security threats protection from small businesses to large enterprises. These cyber-security insurance companies can encrypt and protect all the business information like customer details, business records and information etc. very efficiently without charging too much to your small business. Such professional companies can increase reputation of the small businesses by increasing trust in the eyes of customers that their data and businesses is protected in the best possible way that can ultimately result in increasing customer’s brand loyalty.

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How Small-Medium Enterprises Can Increase Cyber Security and What Are the Risks They Face. (2022, Aug 30). Retrieved January 30, 2023 , from

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