A study by Kaspersky Lab reveals that security breaches cost small businesses an average of $38,000. The cost is broken down into lost sales opportunities, downtime costs, and hiring security experts to mitigate attacks. They are often easy targets because 47% of small businesses lack a strict online security budget.
Study reports show that 60% of microenterprises that experience cyberattacks close permanently in less than six months after the attack. Verizon reports that malware attacks account for 70% of all attacks recorded by microenterprises. This makes it crucial for small business entrepreneurs to understand how malware attacks happen, their effects, and their survival strategies.
How Malware Attacks Affect Small Businesses
JBS Foods, Accenture, and Acer are major companies in their segments, yet in 2021, they experienced major malware attacks. They stayed several days without business, their sensitive data was stolen, and they had to pay up to $50 million in ransom. This shows how serious malware attacks are and the level of risk small businesses face.
Microenterprise managers should do their best to equip themselves with knowledge about how to prevent malware attacks and stay safe. It is critical to understand what malware attacks can do to your small business and be prepared to deal with the challenge.
Attackers can demand a hefty ransom payment: Governments around the world discourage organizations from giving in to ransom demands by attackers. However, owners who experience attacks are torn along a thin line on whether to close the business or give in and save it. The amount they demand depends on the business type and field. A report by CEO World Biz shows the average ransom demand in 2021 was $2.04 million for manufacturers.
Fines from regulators: Regulators require every business to have placed strong online security measures. Malware attacks compromise sensitive data, and customers could sue your company. According to Forbes, 6 in every seven small businesses are not ready to prevent cyberattacks. They lack protection tools, training, and planning.
Loss of business: A ransomware attack may encrypt all critical business documents and thus bring operations to a standstill for several days or weeks. Colonial Pipeline is a major gas company that experienced a malware attack in 2021. Its systems were crippled and went without business for weeks. The average ransom demand for small businesses in 2022 is $139,000.
Damaged reputation: News about the attack could leak out and negatively impact your business. Your customers will lose trust in your business due to the safety of their data. Many clients could shift to your competitors.
Strategies to Survive Malware Attacks
Microbusinesses require an elaborate structure for controlling malware attacks and damage. They require strong cybersecurity measures and recovery strategies. If the entrepreneur is preparing to sync a phone to a PC, the first action should be to install strong attack-prevention measures. The main reasons why microenterprises are more vulnerable to malware attacks are as follows:
- Many of them use unsupported or outdated computer networks.
- They think only larger companies can become targets of malware attacks.
- Software that can run on old devices does not have support.
- They set aside minimum online security budgets.
- Their workers lack proper training to prevent and deal with malware attacks – 60% of the businesses lack proper cybersecurity policy.
If your small business experiences malware attacks, consider following these survival steps.
Know the Attack Source and Contain It
When a malware incident occurs, the first sign is slowing the computer system. In some cases, all operations may come to a standstill. The attackers might begin to demand ransom at this point. The first action should be to identify where the attack is coming from.
The attack can happen due to a clicked link, a push notification to update software or an ill-minded employee who leaks out passwords. The next step should be taking measures to block the attack from spreading. Recovery processes can only start after blocking further spread.
Contact Law Enforcers or Attorneys
After a malware attack, you cannot rule out legal cases. Keeping your attorneys informed is a good strategy to help you survive legal hurdles. Law enforcers like the FBI Cyber Crime Complaint Center have technologies that can help track the attackers. Cybercrime is a serious offense and should be reported to the relevant authorities.
Decide What to Do With Their Demands
After successfully launching a malware attack, the attackers will most likely demand ransom. Authorities often discourage payment of ransoms. The small business owner might be forced by circumstances to pay.
- The cost of recovery might be higher than paying the ransom.
- Business reputation might be damaged permanently.
- The entire system might stand at a standstill for weeks, and the business could lose millions daily.
These issues might force an entrepreneur to consider paying the money. You should, however, consult with your team and weigh all options first.
Alert Other Stakeholders
You might not go public to protect your business reputation. However, you are obligated to alert certain interested stakeholders. Top on the list are workers, clients, insurers, legal teams, and partners. Before involving the media, consult with the legal team first.
Comply With Regulatory Demands
There are local and international regulatory cybersecurity and attack guidelines that every business needs to understand and follow. Your legal team can help you understand these laws better and comply with them.
Improve Your Cybersecurity Safety Measures
Taking preventive measures is the best way to prevent malware attacks instead of acting when the damage is already done. Follow ransom prevention best practices, and your online system will be safe from attacks.
- Keep all software updated: Outdated software leaves numerous loopholes for attacks. Keep all software updated including security prevention applications.
- Create data backups: The data recovery process after attacks is tedious and costly. Even after paying the ransom, you can never be sure you will recover all data. Keeping backups is a good practice.
- Train employees: Prepare cybersecurity training sessions to keep them aware of vulnerabilities and actions.
- Stay informed: Stay alert and know what is happening around the world. Stay up to date with the latest malware attack trends and the latest mitigation technologies.
Whether running a small or large business, you cannot ignore the importance of keeping your company secure. Attacks are increasing worldwide, and you could be the next target. Make sure you stay alert and take quick action whenever you notice any suspicious activities in your computer network. Improve your cybersecurity safety measures by updating all software, creating backups, and training emplo