SMEs Beware: Why Cybercriminals Prey on SMEs – And How to Fight Backs


SMEs Beware: Why Cybercriminals Prey on SMEs - And How to Fight Backs
SMEs Beware: Why Cybercriminals Prey on SMEs - And How to Fight Backs
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The growing incidence of cybercrime has amplified the urgency to safeguard both personal and business security. A staggering 53.35 million US residents were ensnared by different types of cybercrime in just the first six months of 2022, including data breaches and identity theft. These figures underscore the magnitude and profound repercussions of cyber attacks on both individuals and corporations.

The data reveals that the United States is at the epicenter of cyber attacks, absorbing an overwhelming 46% of such assaults worldwide from July 2020 through June 2021. This stark reality underlines the pressing necessity for bolstered cybersecurity protocols and heightened vigilance among both private individuals and businesses to fend off these unceasing cyber threats.

Big Problems for Small Businesses

The escalating incidence of cyber-attacks bears significant repercussions for small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). These entities frequently find themselves in the crosshairs of cybercriminals, mainly due to their potentially fragile cybersecurity framework and constrained resources for thwarting complex threats. The difficulties SMEs encounter in upholding strong cybersecurity measures often render them lucrative prey for cybercriminals looking for weaknesses to manipulate.

The aftermath of cyber attacks on SMEs can be devastating. These attacks can induce not just financial hemorrhage and damage to reputation but also obstruct day-to-day business functions and jeopardize confidential customer information. Therefore, it becomes imperative for SMEs to place cybersecurity high on their agenda and take preemptive steps to ward off cyber menace.

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Ulterior Motives

Rouble Malik, a highly skilled AWS Cloud Engineer and cybersecurity professional, has spent a decade dealing with the specific types of cyber risks associated with smaller and medium businesses. He sheds light on the reasons behind cybercriminals’ focus on SMEs and shares how these businesses can defend themselves against cyberattacks.

“First, you have to understand the motives behind cyber attacks,” Malik explains. “Cybercriminals target SMEs specifically because they often have valuable data – like customer information, financial records, and intellectual property. This makes them lucrative targets. And while bigger corporations obviously have this type of data, they also have the budget and staff to defend it. SMEs often don’t.”

He points out that these businesses frequently deploy inadequate cybersecurity defenses owing to budget constraints, providing a smoother path for cybercriminals to breach their systems.

Additionally, SMEs are more inclined to meet ransom demands to reclaim their data, as the toll of a cyberattack on their operations and standing tends to be harsher than what a similar onslaught might inflict on a larger corporation. This combination of limited security and susceptibility to ransom demands, unfortunately, makes SMEs increasingly attractive targets in the eyes of unscrupulous cybercriminals.

Typical Criminal Mischief

 “Common cyber threats that SMEs face can include phishing attacks, ransomware, data breaches, and insider threats,” Malik points out. “Phishing attacks, in particular, exploit human vulnerabilities by tricking employees into divulging sensitive information or clicking on malicious links.”

He elaborates that ransomware attacks lock down a company’s data, requiring a ransom for its decryption and restoration. On the other hand, data breaches can transpire due to weaknesses in networks or software, resulting in the unwarranted disclosure of confidential customer information. Furthermore, insider threats, whether deliberate or inadvertent, can introduce substantial hazards to the cybersecurity landscape of SMEs.

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The compound effect of these diverse threats emphasizes the importance of multi-faceted security strategies to protect not just the technical infrastructure but also the human elements within an organization.

“It’s integral to implement a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy to protect SMEs from cyber threats,” Malik stresses and advises steps such as:

Employee Education and Awareness

It is of paramount importance to educate employees on cybersecurity norms and practices. Such training should encompass guidance on identifying phishing emails, crafting robust passwords, and exercising prudence while accessing company data and systems.

Regular awareness initiatives and mock phishing drills can prove instrumental in instilling and strengthening a culture of cybersecurity vigilance among the workforce. The continuous reinforcement of these practices helps create a strong first line of defense, as well-versed employees become valuable assets in the fight against cyber threats.

Robust Network Security

“For businesses of SME stature, I usually suggest the deployment of firewalls, intrusion detection, and prevention systems, along with secure methods for remote access to bolster the network’s defense,” shares Malik. “It’s also imperative to regularly update and apply patches to all systems and software for maintaining their security robustness.”

Incident Response and Recovery Planning

It is imperative for SMEs to have an incident response plan ready to mitigate the fallout from a cyberattack. SMEs must define distinct roles and responsibilities, establish communication pathways, and devise backup processes to guarantee a rapid and efficient response during such critical events.

With a well-structured response plan, SMEs can significantly reduce downtime and associated costs following a cyber incident.

Data Protection and Backup

Periodic data backups and encryption play a crucial role in safeguarding vital information. Malik counsels SMEs to devise a data backup plan involving offsite or cloud backups.

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This strategy helps to lessen the severity of ransomware attacks and data breaches, ensuring essential data remains accessible and secure, regardless of the circumstances.

Collaborating and Seeking Expert Assistance

Malik advocates for SMEs to foster collaborations with industry contemporaries, participate in cybersecurity forums, and interact with credible cybersecurity specialists.

Such external engagement can empower SMEs to uncover weak points, enforce stringent security protocols, and keep abreast of the most recent cybersecurity trends and menaces. By building a network of knowledgeable allies, SMEs can equip themselves with the tools and insights necessary to fortify their defenses.

Keep Your Guard Up

Even though SMEs confront considerable cybersecurity hurdles, grasping the reasons behind cybercriminals’ focus on SMEs and executing efficient cybersecurity practices can assist these businesses in shielding themselves from cyber risks. 

“In my engagements with SMEs, I furnish them with a pathway to amplify their cybersecurity stance and guard their precious data,” asserts Malik. “By maintaining alertness, investing in cybersecurity, and calling upon expert help when required, SMEs can effectively counter cybercriminals and continue their prosperous journey in the digital era.”

About Rouble Malikx0JgnJW7Nk ckYOSwEZWYMkVobztChDfkRlJ2G5ss 1Qrn3n1d1QAbnnPx bzce39COVdHWrhppofTk7Aa1f58j38MnrCb49s kaEjNQ0bIEdZGMm7DCSMvXdzIZ7VX2

Rouble Malik is a technology enthusiast with a pronounced interest in AI, cybersecurity, and data privacy. As an independent commentator, he brings an innovative perspective and a rich reservoir of experience from the technology industry.

His passion lies in promoting data privacy awareness, especially within SMEs, and he staunchly believes in the pivotal role of education as a primary safeguard against cyber threats.

LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/rouble-malik-70173654/

Website – https://rouble-malik.bio/

Medium – https://medium.com/@malik.rouble 

For media inquiries, please contact Rouble Malik at https://rouble-malik.bio/contact/.


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Junaid Akbar