4 Specific Information Security Challenges for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises


4 Specific Information Security Challenges for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises

Most SMEs consider IT compliance and security measures as a hassle. However, it is hard to ignore the landscape of security threat and challenges these organizations face just like larger organizations. Unfortunately, small and medium-sized enterprises do not have a very high budget or resources to deal with it. While large organizations are often the main target for cybercriminals, small businesses also face a range of cyber threats often. Most SMEs do not have enough resources and funds to mitigate the risk of theft and cybersecurity challenges. This makes them more vulnerable and at great risk of becoming a victim.

Cybercrime can cause severe damage to a young business' assets and reputation, resulting in additional resources required to fix the damage. If the risk persists, the cyber-attacks can narrow down the margin between cutting a profit and going completely busted.  

Why Cybercriminals Target SMEs – Real Reasons

Cybercriminals are always on a lookout for targets to exploit. A business does not have to be a Fortunate 500 company to get targeted. The only thing that makes a business vulnerable - regardless of its size - is not taking cybersecurity seriously. In fact, if you go through the cybercrimes statistics, you will realize that more than 50% of small businesses were under the cyber-attack. Unfortunately, as a result of these attacks, more than 60% of the SMEs had to shut down completely, in just six months.

Contrary to popular belief, small businesses are equally at risk of cyber-attacks as large organizations and here are the real reasons why:

Lack of Investment Resources

It's no secret that SMEs do not have enough resources to invest in cybersecurity - even hackers are aware of that. This puts SMEs in a vulnerable state. Small and medium-sized businesses make a little-to-no investment on improving their cybersecurity strategies and situation. Hackers find it as an easy opportunity to exploit.

Easy Target

For a small or medium sized business, the data can be everything it is operating on. Experiencing a data breach can be the end for small and medium-size businesses. Therefore, SSMEs are more inclined to save their data and pay the ransom. Also, the same fact makes these small businesses more susceptible to ransomware attacks. In order to save the data and continue operations, businesses will pay the attackers.

SMEs Can Be the Doorway to Large Organizations

Keeping up with a powerful defense mechanism, larger organizations usually have their systems connected with smaller businesses. Hackers use these smaller organizations to compromise the robust security systems of the larger organizations. In this case, the SMEs serve as a bait the hackers to penetrate into the systems of bigger companies.

SMEs Security Challenges and How to Overcome Them

It's quite clear that every organization needs to improve their cybersecurity system regardless of the size. However, it is also important to consider information security training in addition to the other cybersecurity investments. To set up a robust system, a powerful team needs to be put in place. With cybersecurity training, you can train your employees to protect the system and have an action plan in hand to deal with the cybersecurity threat.

The following are the most common security challenges SMEs are vulnerable to:

The Internet of Things Entry Points

Also referred to as the future of technology, can also be one of the main reasons why your small business could be at risk. While IoT adds a lot of convenience to our lifestyle, it can be the ultimate doorway for a cyber-attack to harm a small or medium-sized business. With information security training, your team will be aware of the vulnerable IoT devices and will put them to a better, more secure use. They are in control of how IoT operated within the business and reduces the risk for a security breach.

Internal Attacks

This one is more common with SMEs as compared to larger organizations. Smaller businesses can have weaker internal links as compared to larger businesses with a stronger security system. Therefore, it isn't a surprise that internal attacks can be a huge threat to small businesses. Rogue employees, especially the ones with more authority and network access, can compromise the admin accounts and sensitive data. They are extremely capable of causing severe damage to the business. Certain theories suggest that the 2014's notorious Sony Pictures hack was actually damage made by an insider attack.

To mitigate the risk, businesses must identify and monitor accounts and keep an eye on employees with access to internal systems. Limiting the authority for unauthorized access needs to be terminated. The team of trained individuals should also consider implementing tools and systems to track the activity of privileged accounts.

Phishing and Spear Phishing

Phishing is a very common and highly risky information security threat that businesses of all size face every day. It is important to remember that the cybercrime industry is also growing at a fast pace. It is becoming increasingly sophisticated and well-funded, and so are their methods for targeting a business.

Spear phishing is a phishing attack that's more targeted. The attack is done through phishing emails - that appear authentic and trusted - and can compromise the entire system and network and lock the authorities out of it. The access is only given back after the ransom is paid. A team of trained staff will be in a better position to identify dangers. They can even pass on the information to all the operating departments to warn them about the potential dangers of the cyber threat.

DDoS Attack

The Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks is behind some of the largest cybercrimes involving a website, including Netflix, Twitter, and Reddit. The DDoS attack can severely damage business by blocking crucial services, slowing down websites, and ambushing web traffic. For any business that relies on online services or a website, DDoS can break havoc. The outages a business has to deal with can be detrimental to its operations. A trained team can help create a response plan for the DDoS event of an attack.


Cybersecurity is a major concern for SMEs and large organizations alike. Training the employees and making important cybersecurity investments is the best way to face and defeat IT security challenges.

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