Even today, it’s still possible to find small-business owners who believe that cybercriminals target only large enterprises with massive quantities of data on their servers and equally large piles of money in their bank accounts. Unfortunately, this hasn’t been the case for quite some time.
In 2015, Symantec, a provider of industry-leading antivirus and security software, revealed that some 43% of cyberattacks were directed at organizations with 250 employees or less. Cybercriminals are becoming increasingly interested in SMBs because they see them as easy prey—and for a good reason.
Almost 70% of SMBs that participated in ConnectWise’s 2018 survey said that they hadn’t identified and documented cybersecurity threats by performing a cybersecurity risk assessment. Some even said that cybersecurity risk assessments were not worth the money, which is simply not the case.
What Is a Cybersecurity Risk Assessment?
As the term implies, a cybersecurity risk assessment is the assessment of cyber risks across an organization. It identifies all important data and devices within the assessed organization and determines whether they are protected against cybercriminals. The outcome of the assessment is then used to enhance the organization’s security posture so that it can better face current and future threats.
Cybersecurity risk assessments are anything but new. It’s just that many SMBs have not been paying much attention to them. That needs to change because even small businesses with just a few employees now rely on information technology and information systems to do business, which means that they are exposed to the same risks as large enterprises.
Why Are Cybersecurity Risk Assessments Worth the Money?
For SMBs, it’s easy to dismiss cybersecurity risk assessments as yet another technology-related expense—which it certainly is—but there are many good reasons why this expense is worth every last dollar.
Reducing the Risk of a Cyberattack
The most important benefit of cybersecurity risk assessments is that they help reduce the risk of a successful cyberattack by identifying risks and proactively improving security defenses. In recent years, cybercriminals have shifted focus toward smaller businesses with smaller cybersecurity budgets because such businesses are typically easier to breach yet very likely to pay a ransom. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has made SMBs even more attractive targets because it forced employees to work remotely, often using poorly secured personal devices.
Lowering Long-Term Costs
Even a relatively minor cybersecurity incident can create a vast financial disruption for SMBs. Ponemon Institute estimates that downtime can cost small businesses between $8,000 and $74,000 per hour, but the associated reputation damage and loss of trust may hurt much more in the long run. A cybersecurity risk assessment can identify potential risks before cybercriminals have a chance to exploit them for their own gain, making it one of the best investments any SMB can make.
Helping Achieve Compliance
SMBs in certain industries are required by law to fulfill specific regulatory requirements, such as PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) and HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), which mandate organizations to perform cybersecurity risk assessments on a regular basis. What’s more, any organization that decides to file for cyber insurance is required to undergo a detailed cybersecurity risk assessment, and any previous experience with the process makes it easier to achieve the desired outcome.
Cybersecurity risk assessments generate self-awareness in an organization, making it obvious where it needs to improve to better face modern cyber threats. They give decision-makers useful information about people, processes, and technologies, which they can use to make educated decisions about the organization’s future. Because cybersecurity risk assessments require input from multiple stakeholders, they also enhance cross-department communication and promote visibility.
Who Should Perform a Cybersecurity Risk Assessment?
In large organizations, cybersecurity risk assessments are typically performed by in-house personnel, who is already familiar with the organization’s network infrastructure, data flows, and information systems. The problem is that many SMBs don’t employ any IT staff and are therefore unable to thoroughly assess how protected important data and devices are against cybercriminals.
The good news is that SMBs can easily outsource cybersecurity risk assessments to a third-party. We at Aligned Technology Solutions have a wealth of experience with performing such assessments for Washington, DC businesses, helping them protect their information and minimize the impact of cybercrime.
If you haven’t yet carried out a cybersecurity risk assessment, get in touch with us for more information on how we can discover gaps in your cybersecurity defenses and guide your implementation of updated tools, practices, and policies.