Keeping SMBs safe from cyberattacks
Although a number of SMBs still assume that cybercrime is only an issue associated with larger firms, that perception is no longer reality. According to Symantec, smaller companies have become significantly more attractive targets in the past few years, and careless online security attitudes could be costly.
In a recent survey of 1,900 SMBs around the world, Symantec analysts discovered that approximately half of those polled were familiar with emerging online security threats such as keylogging, targeted network attacks and mobile device theft. Respondents were also aware that such incidents could have significant business consequences, including lost productivity, reduced revenue and reputational damage.
However, there is still a lingering perception that these issues do not apply to smaller companies.
According to the report, half of all respondents suggested that their organization was not in any real danger, and that it was primarily large enterprises who should worry about attacks. Contrary to these beliefs, Symantec researchers revealed that 40 percent of all targeted attacks launched since the beginning of 2010 were directed at companies with fewer than 500 employees, compared to 28 percent focused on larger enterprises.
These lax online security attitudes expressed by SMBs are also - not surprisingly - reflected in their defense protocols. According to the survey, one-third of respondents do not restrict login credentials among employees and 63 percent reported that they do not secure machines used for online banking transactions.
"Our research shows that SMBs are quite vulnerable to cyberattacks, and it's more important than ever for them to take steps to keep their information safe," explained Symantec senior vice president Steve Cullen. "Even with tight budgets and limited resources, simple changes such as education and best practices can significantly strengthen an SMB's security approach to cyberattacks."
To protect themselves from external threats, securing wireless networks is a crucial first step for SMBs. According to PC World, network intruders can do everything from slowing down browsing speed by hogging bandwidth to hijacking online accounts and launching viruses. To avoid these unfortunate incidents, SMBs must deploy strong authentication. Managing network credentials with a password organizer and restricting administrator privileges to only qualified personnel will be essential.
Once this perimeter is established, SMBs can focus their efforts on ensuring their employees are using best practices in safe computing. Symantec analysts recommend developing clear guidelines, establishing consistent training schedules and regularly updating policies and changing passwords.