GUEST ESSAY: Why the next round of cyber attacks could put many SMBs out of business

By Steve Akridge

In the last year, the news media has been full of stories about vicious cyber breaches on municipal governments.  From Atlanta to Baltimore to school districts in Louisiana, cyber criminals have launched a wave of ransomware attacks on governments across the country.

Related: SMBs struggle to mitigate cyber attacks

As city governments struggle to recover access to their data, hackers are already turning their sites on their next targets: small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs).

A 2018 study by the Ponemon Institute showed that 67 percent of SMBs experienced a cyber attack. Even worse, according to Ponemon, 47 percent of SMBs said they have no understanding of how to protect their companies from cyberattacks.

Most small and medium-sized organizations are highly vulnerable to cyberattacks because they usually don’t have a sufficiently strong information technology infrastructure, limited internal staff, or can’t afford to external consultants to handle data security.

When you realize that 54 percent of organizations that suffer an attack spend about $500,000 to restore their systems and 62 percent of SMBs close their doors after an attack, the damage to the economy becomes very apparent.

New SMB security solution

Unfortunately, most cybersecurity firms focus their attention on large organizations and corporations that can afford to pay their fees – leaving SMBs even more vulnerable to potential cyber criminals. While large corporations can get cyber security insurance and engage legions of consultants, the question is: what can the average SMB do to prepare for and protect themselves from a potential cyberattack – at a price they can afford?


Well, as it turns out, SMBs can take some fundamental steps to help them prepare for and recover from a cyber breach. Last month, BorderHawk CyberSecurity launched DefendSMB, a cybersecurity solution that can help small businesses increase their ability to manage a cyber attack for as little as $100 per month. The most important aspect of devising a solution is to have a good understanding of how the business operates. Each business is unique, and we spend a good deal of time gathering information on key facets about the enterprise in order to develop the appropriate cybersecurity solution.

Protecting business processes

Once the initial assessment is complete, for some SMBs, with limited risk, we can offer a basic level of support that includes consulting, before and after an attack, for about $100 per month.  For SMBs with a higher risk level, based on the assessment, we can create a customized approach that outsources the entire cybersecurity infrastructure and operation to BorderHawk – much in the same way SMBs outsource other parts of their operations, like payroll processes.

The key to success for SMBs revolves around their business processes and the level of exposure those processes have to cyber attacks and the daily actions of their internal staff.  Employees at a small business are not typically trained to be alert to potential cyber intrusions like a phishing email.  We can provide basic training to employees of an SMB to help them become more aware of the ways cyber criminals get access to business data.

This threat to SMBs is real and they need an affordable solution that will help them protect their operations which are the backbone of the American economy. It is not of a matter of “if” but “when.”

About the essayist: Steve Akridge is the chief executive officer at  BorderHawk Cybersecurity, an Atlanta-based supplier of  cybersecurity information risk consulting and related services.



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