Cybersecurity threats, always a prime concern for small businesses in the best of times, have become even more of an issue during COVID-19. We recommend that your organization take the time to understand what the biggest cybersecurity threats are for 2021 and work with a trusted IT Support partner to assess how well-protected your company is from them. As you will see in this article, there are significant cybersecurity risks in 2021 that your organization and a reliable IT partner will have to work together to overcome.
Cybersecurity Statistics And Predictions Underline The Threat
Cybersecurity experts have reported the following statistics and predictions for cybercriminal activities that should give every small business pause.
- Cybersecurity Ventures predicts that worldwide cybercrime costs are expected to grow 15% annually over the next five years to reach a staggering $10.5 trillion by 2025. That figure is a massive increase from the $3 trillion in costs recorded in 2015.
- Cyber experts estimate that cyberattacks have increased during the pandemic by 400%, with ransomware attacks rising by 800%.
- Microsoft reports that phishing and social engineering attacks related to the pandemic have jumped up to 30,000 a day in the United States.
- Cyber experts estimate that 43% of cyberattacks target small businesses.
Top Six Cybersecurity Threats
Remote Worker Endpoint Security
Because of the pandemic the amount of people working from home has skyrocketed, which has resulted in increased vulnerabilities for company networks. The main risks come from remote workers using poor cyber hygiene with company equipment and from employees using their own badly protected devices to access the company network. There are simply too many remote workers who click on untrustworthy links and use devices that are not properly patched, managed, and secured when they access their company networks. Typical irresponsible behaviors include improperly secured VPNs, unpatched remote computers, mobile devices not protected by network perimeter security, as well as not following proper email and internet protocols. These negligent actions by remote workers provide hackers with easy targets for exploitation.
Phishing has become even worse of a problem during the pandemic as too many employees are falling victim to COVID-related phishing scams on top of the usual phishing efforts. According to a Verizon report investigating data breaches in 2020, 22% of breaches involved phishing. In the latest nefarious phishing ploy, hackers send official-looking email messages that appear to come from a trusted associate or a legitimate organization, which offer links to COVID-related information or to donation sites. Many organizations have fallen victim to these attacks as their information hungry and generous employees click on these phony links, which then grant cyber criminals access to the company network.
Increased Cloud Usage
Small businesses continue to increase their use of cloud-based applications of all types, which is beneficial to company operations, but it also raises the risk to cybersecurity. IDC predicts that global spending on cloud applications will rise by a compound annual growth rate of nearly 16% over the next four years and will reach $1 trillion in 2024.
Organizations of all sizes benefit greatly from their expanded use of cloud-based applications, especially to support the rising number of remote workers. However, some potential problems that can occur include cloud app vulnerabilities, misconfigurations in cloud storage, incomplete data deletion, and reduced visibility and control. All of these issues raise an organization’s exposure to cyber threats. These risks are particularly enhanced for small companies, many of whom lack dedicated cloud security experts or reliable IT Support partners.
Companies of all types have been enthusiastically purchasing and implementing applications that take advantage of the power of the Internet of Things (IoT) to help analyze consumer and client behavior and assist them in a more efficient marketing process. Unfortunately, the more IoT devices in use (many of them without robust security) and the rising number of web portals being accessed, sharply increase the threat of data breaches. This problem will only increase as the use of IoT trends sharply upward without the corresponding technological developments to thoroughly protect against cybercrime.
Cybercriminals have become even more skilled and ruthless with their ransomware attacks and will continue to target small businesses in 2021. Hackers took in $20 billion through successful ransomware attacks in 2020, and experts predict this figure will increase substantially in 2021. The expanded use of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies has made it easier for cybercriminals to demand and secure their ransom before they will return control of a company’s network back to the afflicted organization. As a result of these developments, Cybersecurity Ventures predicts that a business will fall victim to a ransomware attack every 11 seconds in 2021 as compared to every 14 seconds in 2019.
A Verizon report found that 34% of cyberattacks in 2019 came about because of internal employees’ intentional or unintentional behavior. As we have stressed in past articles, the weakest link of every company’s cybersecurity is their staff.
There are few things more disturbing to a company than the thought of a disgruntled current or former employee infecting critical systems, releasing or selling sensitive information, or enabling bad actors to access the company network. Accordingly, organizations should take the time to limit access to their sensitive information to only the employees required to manage it and to carefully monitor the handling of this data.
Despite the real threat of malicious insiders, the problem of unintentionally destructive employee behavior remains more of a concern for companies; a recent study found that 64% of all insider threat incidents came about through careless employees or contractors. This eye-opening statistic emphasizes the importance of providing security awareness training and requiring proper email and internet behavior from all employees and contractors.
Consult With A Trusted IT Support Partner
During this unprecedented time of increased cybercriminal activity, we encourage you to reach out to a trusted IT Support Partner, like Network Depot, to help ensure that your company is optimally protecting itself against these significant threats. A reliable IT partner will assess your organization’s current cybersecurity efforts and determine your strengths and weaknesses in this important area. Your IT partner will offer your small business valuable advice and will implement any necessary solutions to help protect your organization against aggressive cybercriminals during this pandemic and beyond. By encouraging good cyber hygiene, providing proper training, and working closely with your IT partner, your organization will be able to meet the cybersecurity challenges of this difficult time and achieve your unique objectives.