Why Do Hackers Target Small Businesses?


June 10, 2022

Hollywood has painted a terrifying picture of the everyday “hacker.” In the media, they go after large Fortune 500 companies, taking them down and creating a disaster that the main character then has to go clean up. In reality, though, almost half of all cyberattacks target small businesses. Due to Hollywood’s depiction, a sense of false security has led to many small businesses being the targets and unfortunate victims of cyber-criminal attacks.

Integris is dedicated to the protection of small businesses against cybersecurity threats. We provide comprehensive Managed IT Services that take a proactive approach to cybersecurity. This means that we continuously monitor your systems, investigate signs of trouble, and use prior experience to better your defenses against another attack. You can focus on the heart of your business and give it the care it needs to grow while we stand guard against those who want to use your hard work for their gains.

To help our clients to get a clear understanding of the cybersecurity threat their businesses face, our team has done research on why hackers target small businesses. In this article, we will take a look at the statistics surrounding cyber attacks against small businesses, what makes small businesses so vulnerable, and what you can do to better protect your business.

Statistics Surrounding Cybersecurity Threats Against Small Businesses

There have been numerous studies done about the horrific effects of cybersecurity attacks against small businesses. McAfee estimates that cybercrime has cost the world economy more than $1trillion. Following that up, Verizon’s 2020 Data Breach Investigations Report found that 43% of all cyberattacks are against small businesses.

The introduction of individuals being able to work remotely, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, has only increased the vulnerability of businesses. With the combination of spam emails, lack of knowledge and application of cybersecurity practices in employees, and unsecured networks, hackers have easy access to sensitive business data. 

The FBI’s IC3 (Internet Crime Complaint Center) reported that there were over 3,000 to 4,000 reports of cybersecurity at the start of the pandemic along with 240 million reports of daily spam messages. This is a major increase from the 1,000 complaints a day before the pandemic started.

So what makes small businesses such easy targets or worthwhile targets for hackers instead of the larger fortune 500 businesses?

1. Small Businesses Act As Doorways to Larger Businesses

Small businesses and large businesses interact with each other daily. From simple things such as a small HVAC company providing services to a larger corporation to individuals booking a business brunch at a small but popular local restaurant, information is being passed between the two. While this data may not seem crucial, it can help create an in for hackers to go from the little guy to the big guy. 

An example of this occurred in 2013. Major retailer, Target, was the victim of a cybersecurity attack that led to credit and debit card details of approximately 40 million customers being stolen. This became one of the biggest data breaches to happen to any United States retailer in the history of cybercrime. During the investigation, authorities discovered that the hacker accessed the retailer’s network by first hacking into a small HVAC business that had recently worked with one of the Target stores. The details it stole about Target, allowed the hacker to gain access to Target’s network.

From this example, it is easy to see how hackers can use smaller companies as keys to open the doors to larger businesses.

2. Small Businesses Are Considered Soft Targets

By definition, a soft target is a person or thing that is relatively unprotected or vulnerable to attack. When it comes to cybersecurity, many small businesses do not have the same resources or information to protect themselves against cybersecurity threats that larger corporations have.

Many small businesses are under the assumption that their cloud services backed by password protection help keep their businesses secured. However, this only makes for an easier target for hackers. Not all cloud services include encryption that protects the data being stored, meaning that a hacker can easily find their way in. Whether this is from an employee accidentally clicking on a spam email or ending up on a site they are not supposed to be on and getting a virus, this leaves the business extremely vulnerable.

Integris Network’s Insight: Spear Phishing and Small Businesses

One of the biggest threats that small businesses face in the world of cybersecurity is spear phishing.

What Is Spear Phishing? Spear Phishing is the fraudulent practice of sending emails that appear to be from a known or trusted sender to target individuals to reveal confidential information.

This is a common attack against small businesses as employees, believing they are receiving a message from their superior may accidentally give important information about the company’s network or even their banking information. It is important to ensure that your employees know what to look out for when discerning a spam email from a true one. Here are a few tips to help you spot the difference:

  • A legitimate email from a real business or organization should never come from a public email domain (ex. @gmail.com)
  • Be wary if the domain name is misspelled
  • Don’t trust emails that are poorly written (a few typos are commonplace but when sentences don’t make sense, it is probably a hacker)
  • Don’t click on attachments or links that seem suspicious
  • Don’t trust messages that create a sense of urgency for something like needing to know a password or trying to sign back in
  • If you are concerned about the email, contact who it is trying to impersonate and ask them about it

3. Small Businesses Carry a Lot of Personal Details About Employees and Consumers

Hackers love gaining access to business files that hold sensitive personal information about employees such as their identification data, security numbers, banking information, health records, etc. This data can either be held for ransom or used against the individual in question. 

Hackers can also sell this information to third parties, creating a multitude of problems for the individuals whose data was stolen and resulting in a sense of distrust among your employees. This can become even worse when valuable information such as contact info and credit/debit card details from your consumers are leaked. The resulting distrust can hurt your business. Once trust is broken, it is extremely difficult to get back.

4. Small Businesses Lack Effective Digital Defense

hands typing on a keyboard

Many individuals when they start their small business are unaware of the threat that faces them when it comes to cybersecurity. Keeper Security’s 2019 SMB Cyber Threat Study found that as many as 66% of business owners or the decision-makers within the business did not think that their company was at risk for cyberattacks. This false sense of security has led to as many as 4 in 10 small businesses experiencing more than one incident of cybersecurity attacks. Many of these businesses did not even notice the problem for more than 100 days after the hacker first got in. To make matters worse, 6 in 10 small businesses do not have a reliable cybersecurity plan in place.

How Can I Protect My Small Business Against Hackers?

One of the best ways to ensure your business is protected from cyber attacks and hackers is to have a strong cybersecurity plan in place. Integris is proud to offer one of the best cybersecurity services in our industry. We can handle cyber threats for a multitude of different businesses, from healthcare to construction. Our cybersecurity services include the following to ensure that your business remains protected:

  • 24×7 Network Security Monitoring: Our team monitors your cybersecurity system 24×7 to ensure that nothing attacks your business while your employees are away.
  • Virtual CISO: For businesses looking for a specialized cybersecurity expert, our team can help! We work with you to handle your specific cybersecurity needs to analyze and eliminate threats.
  • Cybersecurity Consulting Services: We work alongside your cybersecurity or IT team to ensure that they are following the best strategies to protect your business against cyber threats.
  • Regular Cybersecurity Testing: We perform regular cybersecurity to ensure that there are no gaps that could lead to potential issues.
  • Unsafe Content Filtering: Protect your employees and network by preventing unsafe content from entering your IT infrastructure.
  • Enterprise-Level Strength Firewall: Add an extra layer of protection to your entire network infrastructure by adding a secure Firewall solution to your business.
  • Spam Protection Services: Help your organization eliminate spam emails and messages before they ever hit your inbox.
  • Virtual Private Networks (VPN) Services: VPNs give you and your employees online privacy by creating a private network through a public internet connection.
  • Backup and Disaster Recovery: Have peace of mind knowing all of your data is continuously archived and ready to be restored at a moment’s notice.

Contact our team today for more information on our services or to schedule a consultation with one of our cybersecurity specialists!

We're Integris. We're always working to empower people through technology.

Keep reading

What to Know Before Installing Co-Pilot for Microsoft Word

What to Know Before Installing Co-Pilot for Microsoft Word

Imagine having an AI assistant that pulls from your notes, marries them to an existing document format, and writes a document for you. That's the power of Copilot for Microsoft Word, which is planned for rollout in 2024 for those who buy the Copilot M365 license....

Bridging the Gap between Automation and Innovation

Bridging the Gap between Automation and Innovation

Automation and Innovation. Some people might say those two words cancel each other out. Yet, I believe these two concepts can create capacity for each other—if your business leverages the free time automation creates to foster innovation. Automation can be...