By Charles Leaver

Cyberattack trend: Hackers target small businesses

Most news coverage of data leakage nowadays pertains to larger organizations becoming victims of cyberattacks. With this information in the limelight, many small businesses may believe that their companies are not within the scope of such threats. However, industry experts have recently pointed out that cybercriminals are increasingly attacking small business systems and leveraging them for  financial gain.

Inc. contributor John Brandon noted that in today’s technological environment, no business is too small for hackers, illustrated by the fact that attacks on small companies rose 300 percent in 2012 alone. However, the questions that must be answered by these organizations are why this trend is occurring and what steps administrators and employees can take to prevent data leakage.

Factors making small businesses attractive to cybercriminals
Brandon pointed out that a main aspect attracting hackers to target small businesses is the fact that organizations with less personnel tend to have more vulnerable data loss prevention security. Whereas larger enterprises typically have much more extensive data protection budgets, they spend more on systems to protect company-owned intellectual property. Cyberattackers are definitely aware of this, and use the knowledge to their advantage by not wasting time trying to break the safeguards of large companies and instead opting to attack small businesses.

PCWorld also noted a growing trend of phishing attacks on smaller organizations, where individual employees are targeted with malicious emails. When a small business is attacked in this or nearly any other style, it can spell disaster for the organization as they may not be able to financially recover.

Furthermore, increased use of the cloud is also creating security weaknesses in smaller organizations.

“They’re also doing more business than ever online via cloud services that don’t use strong encryption technology,” Brandon noted. “To a hacker, that translates into reams of sensitive data behind a door with an easy lock to pick.”

For this reason, it is increasingly important for small businesses to address these vulnerabilities and take proactive measures to prevent data leakage.

Tips to boost data leak prevention
A main way to decrease the company’s risk of being a victim of a cyberattack is to spread awareness about the seriousness of the problem and educate employees about data protection. Small Business Computing recommended ensuring that workers are aware of the particular data included in the company’s protection plans, as well as best practices for device usage and online activities.

PCWorld also advised using endpoint protection on all devices. Businesses can trust third party vendors like Ziften to provide the industry best in endpoint security software.

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