The approximately 32 million small companies in America have never had it easy. About 20% of small business ventures fail in their first year, and 50% fail within five years, according to the Small Business Administration. Larger companies have traditionally had greater cash, better credit availability, and longer lifespans.

The odds of surviving have recently increased for two reasons, one of which is less visible than the other. The current economic environment is one of strong demand, limited supply, and high inflation, and major enterprises have mostly been able to hold their own due to their size, complexity, and solid vendor relationships.

For many small and medium-sized enterprises, however, the road has been more difficult since they have less purchasing power in their supply chains and less ability to raise pay in the face of a competitive labor market mostly foreseeable given the circumstances, but the second issue facing small businesses today, increased cybersecurity concerns, was not.

SMBs are experiencing breaches noticeably more frequently because many of them haven’t been taking cybersecurity seriously. Just like large organizations, small businesses have hastened the implementation of new digital technology for remote labor, production, and sales. However, despite the fact that their enlarged computer networks have produced new openings for phishing and ransomware attacks, they haven’t actually invested much in cybersecurity.

As a result, over the past few years, SMBs’ risk of a cyberattack—which was already normally higher than that of large corporations—has increased significantly. Data breaches at small firms throughout the world increased by 152% in 2020 and 2021 compared to the two years prior, according to RiskRecon, a MasterCard division that evaluates companies’ cybersecurity risks. This number is twice as high as what it was for larger businesses during the same time period.

Additionally, a 2021 IBM study found that 52% of small firms had experienced a cyberattack in the year prior; this number is probably greater today due to the increased frequency of cyberattacks. Meanwhile, only 50% of American small businesses have a cybersecurity plan in place for 2022, according to a recent poll by Chicago-based business service provider UpCity. Although a slight improvement over the past, this still indicates that 50% of people lack a strategy, which is a serious problem.

It is understandable that small firms are more concerned with merely surviving on a day-to-day basis given the challenging circumstances of today. However, without a reliable cybersecurity programme, longer-term survival is definitely impossible. After all, almost everything has gone digital. Today, all private information is kept on computers, and both large and small businesses can access their financial data online, along with their banks and credit card accounts. Additionally, it’s crucial to keep in mind that cybercriminals can be found both within and outside of businesses.

All of this necessitates cyber protection, which includes cybersecurity experts who have undergone training as well as a plan for data recovery and company continuity. Unfortunately, a lot of small business owners still think their companies are too tiny to be a concern for cybercriminals and don’t have enough data to justify a breach.

They are unaware of the fact that cyberattacks against large corporations are much more likely to be noticed by federal law enforcement, which is something no criminal wants. Malicious actors are aware of how seriously the biggest firms in the world handle cybersecurity, it is also true. Due to the fact that smaller companies’ defenses are often far weaker, they have discovered that rather than fighting an uphill struggle, it is preferable to target smaller companies that are a part of their supply chains.

Small business owners frequently have the wrong idea about the financial impact of a cyber incident. Many continue to believe that it only concerns the payment of immediate damage and repair, similar to other disastrous events. In actuality, considerably more than this is charged to the general ledger of accounting, including ransomware payments, lost productivity, higher payroll hours, investigations, regulatory filings, and frequent legal fees.

Bad publicity can also have an adverse effect, which is frequently the worst knock of all. According to International Data Corporation, if their information is compromised in a breach, 80% of customers will leave the company.

Small firms must find ways to fund cybersecurity more generously and must take security seriously when planning and developing security practices. They must also implement measures to better defend against cyberattacks, which, like security measures, are primarily about strategy rather than economics.

In this vein, here are some tips:

Integrate security into the culture of your business. According to studies, human error had a part in more than 85% of breaches, whether the mistake was falling for a phishing scam or choosing passwords that were simple to guess. These can be reduced through comprehensive awareness campaigns that go beyond a playbook of potential attacks. Additionally, they weave safety into the structure of the business, continually reminding staff members that it is their duty to maintain it safe.

Install and update malware prevention software. The ideal software to have on your computer is anti-virus, anti-spyware, anti-ransomware, and anti-phishing protection. Take care to keep it updated frequently.

impose the usage of two-factor authentication and strong passwords. Guessing passwords is the simplest method of breaking into a business network. The majority of people use the same password for numerous websites and accounts. Every employee’s account should have a different password. The most effective way to accomplish this is via password managers.

Regular data backups. It’s ideal to have several backups of business data. In this way, you won’t be completely left in the dark if you end up a victim of numerous hacks.

limit access to employees. Limiting employees to only the systems and data they need access to makes it logical. You can restrict the harm that a single user can bring to your network security by maintaining strict access limits.

These and other related measures, at the absolute least, can aid in reducing cyber stress across the entire company. Nearly four out of ten small business owners are worried about a cyber-attack within the next 12 months, according to a recent CNBC/SurveyMonkey Small Business Survey, which periodically polls more than 2,000 small business owners quarterly to track their outlook on the business environment. It is almost as beneficial to reduce some of this anxiety as it is to thwart an attack.