Whether you’ve had a virus on your home computer or lost an online account to a hacker, we’ve all experienced cyberattacks in some form. Having to reset a personal password is a minor inconvenience, but losing a substantial amount of money or privacy is a much more serious issue. SME’s across the world also experience cyberattacks, and they have much more to lose. Recent research commissioned by comparethemarket found that cybercrime costs the Australian economy over $1.0billion every year. They also found that small businesses accounted for almost half of all cybercrime. 

Every business is at risk, no matter how large or small. SME’s may not have the same financial and technological resources to protect their digital assets in the same way as larger corporates, making them a prime target for valuable cybercrime. Whether you’ve been a victim before or not, it’s essential to understand the many ways that your business may be under threat. Let’s take a look at the most common methods, as well as a few practical strategies you can implement to protect your SME.

What are the Different Types of Cyberattacks?

To prepare your SME for a cyberattack, you need to know what you’re protecting yourself from. There are four standard methods malicious actors use to exploit your SME’s digital vulnerabilities:

  • Phishing is the most prolific method for hackers to extort information. According to data, 76% of all businesses have been a victim of phishing in the last year. Hackers collect valuable information, like customer passwords and payment details by pretending to be a trusted person or business.
  • Malicious Software (malware) is a type of software that aims to destroy or corrupt data on a server, computer or network. Otherwise known as a virus, they’re attached to emails, texts and external downloads.
  • Keylogging is a method to extract sensitive information by tracking a user’s keystrokes. By knowing what your employees’ type, a hacker can pick up specific patterns to exploit your systems
  • Hacking might be as simple as brute-forcing your network to obtain unauthorised access to data (or passwords). 

It All Starts with Education

The reality is that 90% of all cyber breaches are caused by human error. You can have all the software and protections in place only to be let down by the mistakes of your employees. It’s not their fault though! Unless your employees are specifically trained to identify and respond appropriately to security threats, you can’t expect them to know what to do (or not do). SMEs should have an effective training program in place to help new hires understand their responsibilities to protect your digital data. Adopt a cyber-safe mindset and lead by example to propagate this attitude throughout your business.

Passwords. Simple, but Very Effective

If you’re a small business, you’ve probably thought about your employee’s passwords. It seems simple, but many people don’t see the importance of setting a complex password and changing it often. Instead, adopt a robust policy that requires your workforce to change their passwords every month, with a minimum level of complexity. If anything, doing so will discourage hackers from targeting you now, or in the future. It also reduces the risk of temporary works or contractors misusing shared passwords!

Monitor Emails and Have Procedures in Place

Phishing emails are difficult to detect and differentiate from regular, business-as-usual requests. Suspicious emails often contain links to malware or pose as a legitimate customer to obtain personal or financial account information. The latter is often called ‘social engineering’ and is difficult to prevent given it relies on exploiting the human element of your staff. Implement a system where your workforce can report potentially suspicious emails to an expert, as well as a two-factor identification (2FA) requirement from your customers.

Make Use of the Cloud and a VPN

Just like you would your important personal photos and videos, backup your SME’s data. Ideally, your information should be stored on an external server – for example, services such as Dropbox or Google Drive. This puts in place the necessary redundancies to protect the loss of data from a specific device by backing it up in the cloud. 

“With the rise of remote working, secure mobile networks are as important as ever”

Additionally, your SME should set up a virtual private network (VPN) for your employees to use. With the rise of remote working, secure mobile networks are as important as ever. A VPN allows your employees to securely connect to your business’ private network no matter what internet connection they are using – protecting sensitive data.

There are a lot of things to think about when running an SME. Cash flow should not be one of them. Whether you need additional working capital to invest in a sound cybersecurity strategy, pay new suppliers or want to expand your operations, TIM Finance has a range of financing solutions to help you achieve your goals.  Unlock tomorrow’s cash today with TIM Finance.