No One’s Immune: Understanding Cybersecurity Risks and Protections

June 5, 2024

No one is immune to cyberattacks. Between 2018 and 2022, the FBI received 3.26 million complaints about cyberattacks, with reported losses totaling $27.6 billion, according to USAFacts, a nonprofit government data collections group.

According to the 2022 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report, 46 percent of all cyber breaches impacted businesses with fewer than 1,000 employees. The impact on smaller businesses is particularly devasting because they may not have cyber insurance or the financial resources to recover.

Cyber-Security woman at computer

Regardless of your business’s size, it’s more important than ever to protect your company against cyberattacks.

Cybercrime magazine reported that cybercrime costs are projected to reach $10.5 trillion USD annually by 2025, up from $3 trillion in 2015. “This represents the greatest transfer of economic wealth in history, risks the incentives for innovation and investment, is exponentially larger than the damage inflicted from natural disasters in a year, and will be more profitable than the global trade of all major illegal drugs combined,” the magazine reported.

What is Cybercrime?

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) defines a cyberattack as “any kind of malicious activity that attempts to collect, disrupt, deny, degrade or destroy information system resources or the information itself.”

The types of cyberattacks include:

  • Phishing:  A fraudulent attempt to obtain sensitive information, such as usernames, passwords and credit card details via email or text by masquerading as a bank or other trusted entity
  • Personal data breach: An incident where an unauthorized individual accesses, or an authorized user misuses, Personally Identifiable Information (PII)
  • Non-payment/non-delivery scams: Non-delivery of paid items, non-payment for shipped goods, misrepresented products on auction sites and payment demands via gift cards
  • Malware: Software designed to disrupt, damage or gain unauthorized access to computer systems
  • Ransomware: A type of malware that encrypts the victim’s data, making it inaccessible; the attacker then demands payment for the decryption key
  • Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS): Attacks involving overloading a system, network or website with traffic so it crashes and becomes unavailable to regular users

All Businesses Are at Risk

While large corporations have the resources to invest heavily in cybersecurity defenses, a small or medium-sized business might not, making it a more tempting target for cybercriminals.

The most vulnerable aspects of your business in the digital domain typically lie where security measures are weakest or overlooked. This includes end-point devices, such computers and smartphones, email systems and, often, your human resources.

Weak passwords, outdated software and the lack of employee training in cybersecurity best practices can open doors for cybercriminals.

To safeguard your business and protect your customers, it’s critical to adopt proactive cybersecurity measures, such as regular software updates, employee training and implementation of sound security policies. If you have a website, be sure it has an SSL certificate. This is often supplied by your website’s hosting vendor.

Investing in these defenses could be the difference between a secure business environment and a costly data breach.

Common Cybersecurity Weaknesses

Phishing attacks are a common entry point for hackers. These are deceptive emails or messages that trick employees into revealing sensitive information.

Lack of employee training on security protocols can lead to unintentional breaches.

Small and medium-sized businesses in particular may not have robust security infrastructure, making them prime targets. Cyberattacks in smaller businesses often result from:

  • Poor password practices: Not enforcing strong password policies can compromise your entire system.
  • Outdated software: Failing to update software can leave security holes that hackers exploit.
  • Limited IT staff: Many small and medium-sized businesses have small dedicated IT teams — or none at all — which can hinder proper security measures and response times.

How to Protect Your Business

Effective strategies for protecting businesses involve a combination of preventive security measures and a solid incident response plan.

Prevention and security measures include:

  • Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA): MFA requires more than one method of authentication from independent categories of credentials to verify the user’s identity for a login or other transaction.
  • Firewalls and encryption: Firewalls block unauthorized access to your network; encrypting sensitive data protects customer information.
  • Password management: Use a password manager for generating and storing complex passwords. Ensure robust password policies requiring regular updates are in place.
  • Regular backups: Schedule regular data backups and ensure they are stored securely, ideally offsite or on cloud-based services with strong encryption.
  • Access control: Limit access to sensitive data and systems to those who require it for their role, minimizing potential exposure to unauthorized users.
  • Security awareness training: Regularly train your employees to recognize and resist social engineering attacks, such as phishing attempts, through security awareness programs.
  • Updated systems: Keep your software, systems, and cybersecurity measures updated to protect against known vulnerabilities.

In addition, consult resources available from NIST and the FBI for recommendations on threat detection and response. Also consider acquiring cyber insurance to mitigate financial risks associated with data breaches and recovery processes.

The Pennsylvania Small Business Development Center offers cybersecurity consulting services for the state’s small businesses. Learn more here:

To learn more about security protections for your website, read about Fresh Creative’s hosting services and contact us to make sure security protocols are in place for your website.


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