Be honest – what’s the first thought that comes to mind when you read SOHO? It’s probably an acronym for the south side of Manhattan in NYC, a historic location in Lower Manhattan in New York City. Or perhaps you thought immediately about Soho in London’s West End. You might ask….why in the world is SOHO on the radar of cybercriminals? And that’s the challenge….. lack of awareness.
SOHO here stands for “small office/home office”….and yes, these businesses are in the crosshairs of attackers.
Beware – cybercriminals are coming
According to Verizon’s 2020 Data Breach Investigations Report, over 28% of data breaches involved small businesses. If you are operating a SOHO business, the size of your business won’t mean you fall below the radar of cybercriminals. Your business is fair game.
Take a good look at your cybersecurity infrastructure. Evaluate your security posture. Think about whether your current setup is capable of protecting against advanced cyber threats. The threat landscape is growing and evolving all the time, and poor technological infrastructure and legacy data security solutions are not going to cut it for you. All SOHO businesses need to be aware of the sophisticated threats that will be leveled at them and take appropriate action.
What’s more, there are plenty of SOHO businesses acting as third-party vendors/services providers for bigger organizations. Criminals see SOHOs as easily infiltrated backdoors to get access to the networks of these organizations.
Another reason why SOHOs are under increasing threat is the lack of seriousness shown to too many businesses in strengthening their security posture. This is due to a lack of awareness about cyber threats on the part of owners, and it needs to change. Another aspect is cost. For many SOHO businesses, the investment demanded by cybersecurity can also act as a deterrent, which results in inadequate security controls, which are then exploited by cybercriminals.
The Threats To SOHOs
Phishing is as clear and presents a danger to SOHOs as it is for big businesses. Illegitimate emails masquerading as the real deal are sent to recipients. They are crafted to convince recipients they’re from a trusted source. Such attacks are widespread and can be very effective, as phishing methods become more sophisticated and phishing kits continue to be easily available on the dark web.
You might get a message that looks to be from a legitimate sender, like your bank or a business you deal with, asking you to share sensitive personal information. If you are not careful, you might end up sharing information you shouldn’t.
The second type of phishing attack convinces you to open a link that downloads malware on your computer. Again, this message arrives from a source you think you can “trust.” These often use a sense of urgency to make users careless about clicking a link or visiting a website, where their device is infected. Once the malware is in your system, it can steal your data, prevent access to critical files, and do a whole lot more.
While you bolster your defenses against threats emanating from external threat actors, you must also worry about internal threat actors. These could be current or former employees or an entity that has/had access to your network. Many times, an internal threat action happens accidentally rather than maliciously, when an employee makes a security error that results in a security incident. Intentional or not, cybercriminals will jump on any chance to use an advanced malware attack against your IT infrastructure. You need to prepare yourself for the worst.
Follow these steps to ensure your SOHO business is battle-ready for cyberattacks.
• Build awareness
The first step is developing security awareness among your employees. You might have very few employees, but any carelessness (or maliciousness) on their part can result in lost data. You need to make them well aware of the threats out there and how they can fall prey to phishing attacks. Awareness is the first step towards a stronger security posture.
• Regular software updates
Your business must be using many pieces of software to perform specific activities to keep your business running smoothly. But are you updating this software regularly? If you are not, your business can become a victim of an exploit, where criminals exploit an unpatched vulnerability to attack your system. Every piece of software needs to be updated regularly to add security patches that plug the gap that can otherwise be exploited by hackers.
• Deploy antivirus software
This is something that you cannot do without, but not any software will do. Say no to legacy solutions, and implement a security solution that offers much more than just phishing and malware protection.
As a SOHO business owner, you cannot afford to be lax about protecting your data and overall IT infrastructure. Criminals will not knock on your door to ask for permission to enter – they will force their way into your IT system. More often than not, this ‘force’ is so sophisticated that you will be none the wiser that an attack has taken place. The answer lies in taking preemptive action and addressing security weaknesses using a well-planned approach with a cutting-edge security solution at its center.