What Risks Phishing Poses to Small Businesses

Phishing is one of the most common ways cybercriminals attack small businesses. Unfortunately, the aftermath of a cyber-attack can cost small businesses a fortune in recovery time. On the other hand, some companies can’t recover from these attacks.

These days, phishing scams are gaining momentum because they’re too easy to replicate. Some can be as simple as sending a spoofed email with malicious intent or creating a fake website.

Phishing poses grave risks to your business depending on the attack’s scope. Let’s look at some ways they can affect your organization below.

1. Theft of Intellectual Property

Aside from money and equipment, another important business asset is intellectual property. Everything you’ve used to build your company successfully, from trade secrets to industry research, can go down the drain.

That’s because phishing attacks can compromise all of your hard work. When this occurs, a phishing attack can set your business back and make it less competitive.

2. Data Loss

Hackers can access your data anytime and cost businesses millions of dollars. In fact, the global average cost of a data breach is $4.35 million this year.

Data breaches occur, especially if you were to click on a malicious link in an email. Many cyberattacks happen this way to try and deceive an employee with a tricky subject line.

What looks like a normal link in the email is one thing hackers use to corrupt and delete files. Data loss is one of the most common phishing attacks and can cause a hefty loss for organizations.

3. Damage to Reputation

Many companies suffer from data breaches, compromising the business reputation as a result. Data can include sensitive customer and employee information. And when a company has to announce the violation publicly, many will lose trust in the organization.

Data breaches strongly impact brand reputation and it can be challenging to come back from a successful hack.

4. Loss of Clientele

When companies lose trust in their customers, they lose their business. It only takes one successful phishing attack to scare away customers.

Unfortunately, consumers will stop doing business with that organization even after several months. Therefore, regaining their confidence is no easy task.

5. Financial Penalties

Companies are responsible for protecting their customers’ data. Yet when they mishandle their information, hefty fines can occur since many regulations are intact.

Ensure your business is following best practices. Violating regulations like GDPR, HIPAA and PCI result in penalties for targeted companies.

You may think your business is too small for such an occurrence. However, many cybercriminals go after these smaller organizations because larger ones heavily invest in cybersecurity.

In Verizon’s 2021 Data Breach Investigations Report, 1,037 data breaches occurred at small businesses, while 819 were large businesses.

6. Operational Disruption

Phishing attacks use malware that can completely shut down your systems. If a cyber attack were to occur, this would make it impossible to run your business.

That’s because malicious bugs can take you offline and render you with nothing to keep your business from prospering. An interruption to your business like this can result in a tremendous decrease in productivity.

Prevent Phishing Attacks in Your Business

Phishing attacks occur daily and thousands of businesses fall victim to them yearly. Fortunately, these scams are avoidable if you put the proper measures in place.

Invest in cybersecurity by following these simple tips:

  • Be aware of the latest phishing methods and share them with users regularly with security awareness training.
  • Avoid clicking on suspicious links.
  • Change your passwords regularly.
  • Ensure you update your software regularly. Updates release security patches that prevent cyber-attacks.
  • Install desktop and network firewalls to bolster your security.
  • Be aware of giving out information to an unsecured site. Ensure the site has security certificates before entering sensitive information.

Invest in Cybersecurity

Phishing attacks have numerous negative impacts on organizations. Therefore, it’s critical that you invest in cybersecurity solutions, implement policies and prioritize employee education.

When you put protective measures in place, you have a higher chance of protecting your business, employees and customers.

Eleanor Hecks is editor-in-chief at Designerly Magazine. Eleanor was the creative director and occasional blog writer at a prominent digital marketing agency before becoming her own boss in 2018. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and dog, Bear.

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